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Electron-atom collision studies using optically state-selected beams. Final report, May 15, 1991--May 14, 1994

Description: As stated in the original proposal, the goal of the project has been to perform electron-scattering experiments on a few model systems with emphasis on resolving all the quantum-state variables possible. The purpose of these experimental studies has been to provide a set of measurements of unprecedented accuracy and completeness that can be used as benchmarks for comparison with theoretical calculations. During the period covered by this report, the work has concentrated on measuring low-energy electron scattering from sodium and chromium. Sodium provides an ideal one-electron test case, since it has a single loosely bound valence electron, making it approachable by even the most complex electron scattering calculations. In addition, the atom has a strong optical transition from the 3{sup 2}S{sub 1/2} ground state to the 3{sup 2}P{sub 3/2} excited state whose wavelength (589 nm) matches the peak output of the laser dye rhodamine 6G. Thus optical pumping techniques can be readily applied in the laboratory, leading to either a population of ground state atoms in which the spin of the valence electron is oriented either up or down in the laboratory, or a spin polarized pure angular momentum state of the excited 3{sup 2}P{sub 3/2} state. Such an excited state makes possible superelastic scattering, where the internal energy of the atom is transferred to the electron during the collision. This turns out to be a very efficient way to study the inelastic scattering process. Unlike sodium, chromium provides an extremely exacting test for theoretical methods because of its very complex electronic structure, not because it is simple. With a valence configuration consisting of five electrons in a half-filled 3d shell, plus another electron in a 4s shell, this atom provides a test case that can challenge even the simplest approximations.
Date: March 15, 1998
Creator: Kelley, M.H. & McClelland, J.J.