Date of Completion

Spring 4-30-2016

Project Advisor(s)

William Stwalley; Edward Eyler; Phillip Gould

University Scholar Major



Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics


The cooling of molecules into the ultracold regime allows for high resolution laser spectroscopy that reveals their complex rotational and vibrational structure. As the temperature is lowered towards absolute zero, the kinetic energy of the particles approaches zero, and therefore the Doppler shift approaches zero. With the Doppler shift negligibly small, spectral resolution is now primarily limited by the natural linewidth of the molecular peaks. Further, ultracold temperatures make possible the production of atoms or molecules that will reside in the lowest few states of the system. The high population in a few select states provides stronger and less congested spectra compared to in uncooled systems. Interactions with the system, such as photoassociation, are well defined in ultracold systems and populate select states that are easily observable. With the control allowed by ultracold temperatures we are able to observe quantum mechanical phenomena that are otherwise hidden from view. In this thesis I investigate energetics for reactions forming trimers of ultracold Rb and K and pathways to formation that appear most promising for experimental studies in our current setup.