MU chemist adds the details of “cold collisions of hot molecules” to existing theories of molecular interactions
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Show Me Mizzou
Eric Stann

When two cars collide at an intersection — from opposite directions — the impact is much different than when two cars — traveling in the same direction — “bump” into each other. In the laboratory, similar types of collisions can be made to occur between molecules to study chemistry at very low temperatures, or “cold collisions.”

A team of scientists led by Arthur Suits at the University of Missouri has developed a new experimental approach to study chemistry using these cold “same direction” molecular collisions. Suits said their approach hasn’t been done before.

“When combined with the use of a laser that ‘excites’ the molecules, our approach produces specific ‘hot’ states of molecules, allowing us to study their individual properties and provide more accurate experimental theories,” said Suits, a Curators Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Science. “This is a condition that does not occur naturally but allows for a better understanding of molecular interactions.