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Issue 28, 2008
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Cold controlled chemistry

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Collisions of molecules in a thermal gas are difficult to control. Thermal motion randomizes molecular encounters and diminishes the effects of external radiation or static electromagnetic fields on intermolecular interactions. The effects of the thermal motion can be reduced by cooling molecular gases to low temperatures. At temperatures near or below 1 K, the collision energy of molecules becomes less significant than perturbations due to external fields. At the same time, inelastic scattering and chemical reactions may be very efficient in low-temperature molecular gases. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that collisions of molecules at temperatures below 1 K can be manipulated by external electromagnetic fields and to discuss possible applications of cold controlled chemistry. The discussion focuses on molecular interactions at cold (0.001–2 K) and ultracold (<0.001 K) temperatures and is based on both recent theoretical and experimental work. The article concludes with a summary of current challenges for theory and experiment in the research of cold molecules and cold chemistry.

Graphical abstract: Cold controlled chemistry

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The article was received on 11 Feb 2008, accepted on 09 Apr 2008 and first published on 20 May 2008

Article type: Perspective
DOI: 10.1039/B802322K
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2008,10, 4079-4092

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    Cold controlled chemistry

    R. V. Krems, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2008, 10, 4079
    DOI: 10.1039/B802322K

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