RUI: Quantum Mechanical Studies of Hydrogen and Helium Interactions: Applications in Astrophysical, Ultracold, and Industrial Environments

Project: Research project

Project Details


Quantum mechanical studies of hydrogen and helium interations will be performed with applications in astrophysical, ultracold, and industrial environments. These environments include atom and molecule traps, surfaces of transition metal clusters, and astrophysical environments where reliable data is needed for a variety of microphysical processes. The intellectual merit of the research includes first principles investigation of the interactions of hydrogen with other atoms and molecules, the formation and dynamics of helium-containing van der Waals molecules, and chemical reactions involving hydrogen on the surfaces of metallic clusters. Each of these investigations will use fully quantum mechanical methods to describe detailed interactions involving hydrogen and helium.

The broader impacts of the research include applications to:

(i) Astrophysical environments such as photodissociation regions where hydrogen molecular clouds are far from thermal equilibrium, and primordial gas where a significantly improved theoretical account of molecular hydrogen is needed to simulate population III star formation,

(ii) Ultracold environments such as buffer-gas traps where trapped van der Waals complexes may open up new avenues of research in few-body physics, chemical reaction dynamics, and cluster physics, and

(iii) Industrial environments where processes such as heterogeneous catalysis might benefit from an atomic and molecular perspective. The broader impacts also include the development of human resources and educational outreach activities. Students will be given their first exposure to scientific research. General education and outreach talks will be given that relate the research activities with topics of interest to the public. The project is designed to integrate research, teaching, and educational outreach and provide an excellent opportunity for undergraduates to begin training for science and engineering careers.

Effective start/end date9/1/128/31/16


  • National Science Foundation: $230,695.00


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