Augustana students co-author article in Physical Review A

SIOUX FALLS – Four current Augustana students join two alums as co-authors of a paper published in the December 2009 issue of Physical Review A.

The work is a collaborative effort with researchers at the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State University.

Current students involved in the project are Michael Todt, a senior physics and chemistry major from Moorhead, MN; Bethany Jochim, a junior physics major from Pierre, SD; Neal Gregerson, a sophomore chemical physics major from Sioux Falls; and Russ Averin, a senior physics and mathematics major from Sioux Falls. Nick Smolnisky and Nathan Jastram, both from the class of 2009, are co-authors. Smolnisky is a graduate student in biomedical engineering at the University of South Dakota, while Jastram is completing his electrical engineering degree at the University of Minnesota.

The article, “Examining the feedback signals used in closed-loop control of intense laser fragmentation of CO,” describes how ultrafast laser pulses can be used to control the inner workings of simple molecules. In this work, the Augustana students probed how shaping the electric field of an intense laser pulse can coherently manipulate the population of various excited states of carbon monoxide molecules. These excited states lead to different fragmentation pathways for the molecules, thus controlling how the molecule breaks apart in the laser field. This basic research in quantum control may one day lead to new ways to synthesize chemicals, detect trace amounts of harmful materials, or selectively activate drugs at specific locations in the body.

The Physical Review is a journal of the American Physical Society, and Physical Review A is the section of the journal dedicated to atomic, molecular, and optical physics research. Physical Review is stringently peer-reviewed and is generally regarded as the most prestigious physics-only journal in the world.

The work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences Division, Office of Basic Energy Services, US Department of Energy.