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James Croft and Balakrishnan Naduvalath

Published: James Croft and Balakrishnan Naduvalath

Jul 28, 2017

James Croft and Balakrishnan Naduvalath (Chemistry and Biochemistry) and a team of researchers recently published a paper, "Universality and Chaoticity in Ultracold K + KRb Chemical Reactions," in the journal Nature Communications. The team performed the first-ever quantum-mechanical simulation of the benchmark ultracold chemical reaction between potassium-rubidium (KRb) and a potassium atom, opening the door to new controlled chemistry experiments and quantum control of chemical reactions that could spark advances in quantum computing and sensing technologies. The research by the multi-institutional team simulated the ultracold chemical reaction, with results that had not been revealed in experiments.

The research addressed open questions about whether chemical reactions occur at a billionth of a degree above absolute zero and whether the outcome can be controlled. Scientists worldwide are addressing these questions experimentally by cooling and trapping atoms and molecules at temperatures close to absolute zero and allowing them to interact chemically. This field of chemistry, widely referred to as ultracold chemistry, has become a hotbed for controlled chemistry experiments and quantum control of chemical reactions, the holy grail of chemistry.