2017/2018

Molecules in Extreme Environments

Natural Sciences

Principal investigators

Trygve Helgaker

Professor
University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS

Abstract

Chemistry is the science about matter - its stability, reactivity, transformations, interactions with external electromagnetic fields and radiation. However, we are mostly familiar with chemistry under conditions that can be realized on Earth. Under other conditions, chemistry changes in ways that cannot easily be predicted or understood from our experience with Earth-like chemistry.

For example, in the atmospheres of certain stellar objects such as rotating white dwarfs and neutron stars, extreme magnetic fields exist that cannot be generated on Earth. Knowledge about chemistry under such conditions can only be gained by performing advanced quantum-mechanical simulations, solving the Schrödinger equation for the electrons and nuclei that constitute matter.

Such calculations reveal an exotic, unfamiliar chemistry - molecules become squeezed and twisted, behaving in unexpected, fascinating ways. Even chemical bonding is affected - in a strong magnetic field, atoms are bound to one another by the rotation of the electrons, giving rise to molecules that do not exist on Earth.

In the project Molecules in Extreme Environments, we aim not only to understand chemistry under extreme conditions such as strong magnetic fields, extreme pressure, and intense laser pulses - we also aim to guide experimental work. Our work on magnetic bonding has already triggered experimental investigations on impurities in semiconductors, where similar effects may occur and lead to the design of materials with new properties. Likewise, a recent collaboration with astrophysicists aims to detect molecules in the atmospheres of white dwarfs, guided by quantum-mechanical simulations.

Fellows

Maria Dimitrova

PhD Candidate
University of Helsinki
Year at CAS

Jürgen Gauss

Professor
Johannes Gutenberg – Universität Mainz
Year at CAS

Willem M. Klopper

Professor
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Year at CAS

Elke Pahl

Lecturer
Massey University Auckland
Year at CAS

Lukas F. Pasteka

Dr.
Comenius University
Year at CAS

Trond Saue

Professor
Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier
Year at CAS

Peter Schwerdtfeger

Professor
Massey University Auckland
Year at CAS

Krista G. Steenbergen

Postdoctoral Fellow
Massey University Auckland
Year at CAS

Stella Stopkowicz

Senior Researcher
Johannes Gutenberg – Universität Mainz
Year at CAS

Dage Sundholm

Professor
University of Helsinki
Year at CAS

Andrew M. Teale

Assistant Professor
University of Nottingham
Year at CAS

Hans-Joachim Werner

Professor
University of Stuttgart
Year at CAS

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