Interactions and collisions of cold molecules : lithium + lithium dimer
There is at present great interest in the properties of ultracold molecules. Molecules are created in traps in excited rovibrational states and any vibrational relaxation results in the trap loss. This thesis provides a theoretical study of interactions and collisions in the spin-polarized lithium -b lithium dimer system at ultralow energies. Potential energy surface of the electronic quartet ground state of lithium trimer is generated ab initio using the CCSD(T) method and represented by an IMLS/Shepard fit. Long-range nonadditive interactions are modelled using a symmetric global form with coefficients taken from a fit to the atom-molecule dispersion coefficients. The surface allows barrierless atom-exchange reactions. It has a global minimum of ≈ 4000 cm(^-1) at equilateral geometries with r(_e) = 3.1 Å. The nonadditive interactions are very strong near equilibrium. They increase the well depth by a factor of 4 and reduce the interatomic distance by ≈ 1 Å. Another surface of À symmetry in C(_s) meets the ground state surface at linear geometries at short range. Part of the seam, near D(_ooh) geometries, is in an energetically accessible region for cold collisions. Inside the seam, the lowest À surface correlates with (^4)II rather than (^4)Σ state. Inelastic and reactive collisions are investigated using a quantum mechanical coupled channel method in hyperspherical coordinates. Bosonic and fermionic systems in the spin-stretched states are considered. The inelastic rate coefficients from the rovibrationally excited states of dimer at ultralow collision energies are large, often above 10-(^-10) cm(^3)s(^-1) The elastic cross sections are ≈ 3 orders of magnitude lower at 1 nK. Atom-molecule mixtures, at the densities found in Bose-Einstein condensates of alkali metal atoms that were recently produced, would last only a fraction of a second. Classical Langevin model describes semi-quantitatively the energy dependence of inelastic cross sections above ≈ 50 mK. No systematic differences between the bosonic and fermionic systems were found. Sensitivity of the results on potential was investigated. Reactions in isotopic mixtures of lithium may be exothermic even from the molecular ground state. The reactive rate coefficients are 1 - 2 orders of magnitude smaller than those in systems involving an initially vibrationally excited dimer.