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Students’ Research Appears in Physics Publication

SIOUX FALLS, SD - Augustana students Russ Averin, Neal Gregerson, and Bethany Jochim are co-authors of a paper published in the January 14, 2010, issue of the Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics.

The article, “Closed-loop control of vibrational population in CO2+” describes how shaped ultrafast laser pulses can be used to drive simple molecules to vibrate in specific ways. To arrive at these results, they developed a new experimental method that detects more than one molecular fragment at a time and rapidly processes that information for use as a feedback signal. The feedback is then used to determine the optimal laser pulse for populating the vibrational state of the molecule.

This basic research in quantum control may one day have applications in energy storage, quantum computing, and using lasers to control chemical reactions. The work was done in collaboration with researchers at the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State University.

The publication also highlights the level of undergraduate research in Augustana’s Physics Department. For Jochim, a junior from Pierre, SD, this is her fourth peer- reviewed publication. Her Augustana colleagues Russ Averin, a senior from Sioux Falls, and Neal Gregerson, a sophomore from Sioux Falls, have also authored multiple articles.

Averin co-authored a particle physics paper along with Assistant Professor Drew Alton that appeared in Physics Letters B in 2009, and all three students were co-authors of a recent article in Physical Review A. Since 2005, 15 different Augustana College students have co-authored peer-reviewed physics articles.

The Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics is published by the Institute of Physics, and contains articles covering the study of atoms, ions, molecules, condensates or clusters, their structure and interactions with particles, photons, fields and surfaces.

The work was supported by the National Science Foundation (award PHY-0653598) and the Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences Division, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, US Department of Energy.