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Title: Combination of a cold ion and cold molecular source
Author: Oldham, James Martin
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 4580
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis describes the combination of two sources of cold atomic or molecular species which can be used to study a wide range of ion-molecule reactions. The challenges in forming these species and in determining the fate of reactive events are explored throughout. Reactions occur in a volume within a radio-frequency ion trap, in which ions have previously been cooled to sub-Kelvin temperatures. Ions are laser-cooled, with migration of ions slowed sufficiently to form a quasi-crystalline spheroidal structure, deemed a Coulomb crystal. Fluorescence emitted as a consequence of laser-cooling is detected; the subsequent fluorescence profiles are used to determine the number of ions in the crystal and, in combination with complementary simulations, the temperature of these ions. Motion imparted by trapping fields can be substantial and simulations are required to accurately determine collision energies. A beam of decelerated molecules is aimed at this stationary ion target. An ammonia seeded molecular beam enters a Stark decelerator, based on the original design of Meijer and co-workers. The decelerator uses time-varying electric fields to remove kinetic energy from the molecules, which exit at speeds down to 35 m/s. A fast-opening shutter and focussing elements are subsequently used to maximise the decelerated flux in the reaction volume while minimising undecelerated molecule transmission. Substantial fluxes of decelerated ammonia are obtained with narrow velocity distributions to provide a suitable source of reactant molecules. Combination of these two techniques permits studies of reactions between atomic ions and decelerated molecules that can be entirely state-specific. Changes in the Coulomb crystal fluorescence profile denote changes in the ion identities, the rate of these changes can be used to obtain rate constants. Determination of rate constants is even possible despite the fact that neither reactant nor product ions are directly observed. This work has studied reactions between sympathetically cooled Xe+ ions and guided ND3 and has obtained data consistent with prior studies. Determination of reactive events is complicated if ion identities can change without affecting the fluorescence profile, or if multiple reaction channels are possible. A range of spectroscopic techniques are discussed and considered in regards to determining rate constants and product identities. Pulsed axial excitation of trapped ions can follow rapid changes in average ion weights and subtle changes for small crystals. Time-of-flight mass spectrometry is also demonstrated using the trapping electrodes and is suitable for discrimination of ions formed within the trap.
Supervisor: Softley, Timothy P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Physical Sciences ; Chemistry & allied sciences ; Chemical kinetics ; Laser Spectroscopy ; Physical & theoretical chemistry ; Photochemistry and reaction dynamics ; Spectroscopy and molecular structure ; Atomic and laser physics ; cold chemistry ; ion trapping ; laser cooling ; molecular deceleration ; ion-molecule reactions ; mass spectrometry