The ERC project, which is led by Assoc. Prof. Michał Tomza from the UW Faculty of Physics, deals with matters of ultracold quantum physics and chemistry “This project aims to understand and harness the increasing complexity of ultracold polyatomic molecules to probe the fundamentals of chemistry and physics,” Prof. Tomza explained.
The project “Ultracold polyatomic molecules for controlled chemistry and precision physics” (QuantMol) by Prof. Tomza and his team combine chemistry and physics of ultracold matter to obtain new insights into the physical basis of chemistry and the fundamental laws of nature.
“We will extend the range of ultracold polyatomic molecules and their applications in controlled chemistry and precision spectroscopy,” as Prof. Tomza described, “We will combine and develop novel electronic structure and quantum scattering methods enhanced by machine learning and high-performance computing. Next, we will study new applications exploiting features emerging from single-molecule and coherent control, conical intersections, and non-trivial electronic states and geometries absent in simpler systems.”
The project has won the funding from the European Research Council. It is the second ERC Starting Grant obtained by the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw.
The project will exploit cold chemistry in the quantum realm and bring unprecedented complexity to ultracold physics. This interdisciplinary project is mostly theoretical of character but its realisation requires a close cooperation with experimental groups.
“Ultracold atoms have been successfully used in quantum simulations and precision measurements. Molecules possess a richer internal structure promising new applications. However, only relatively simple molecules have been produced and employed at ultralow temperatures,” Prof. Tomza said.
Theoretical investigations in ultracold conditions
As Prof. Tomza describes “we will associate ultracold deeply-bond diatomic molecules into ultracold weakly-bond polyatomic molecules and cool carefully selected deeply-bond polyatomic molecules manipulated with strong fields, short pulses, and structural modifications in order to engineer closed transitions suitable for laser cooling”.
In his project, Prof. Tomza recommends new methods to produce and employ ultracold molecules, i.e. developing and adjusting methods of atomic physics to more complex systems, and new methods to control and manipulate them with external electromagnetic fields.
“My research group includes 6 doctoral candidates, 4 postdocs and a few students. Each one of them is considered a gifted and ambitious young researcher. I believe this project will motivate them for more intensive research work and scientific development,” as Prof. Tomza describes his colleagues.
Assoc. Prof. Michał Tomza, PhD, from the Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw, is a theoretical physicist and chemist. He specialises in quantum physics of matter and light-matter interactions. He was awarded the National Science Centre Award 2020 for this theoretical description of interactions between ultracold atoms, ions and molecules. He uses theoretical methods, and also performs computer simulations. In his work, he cooperates with experimental groups from Amsterdam, Basel, Stuttgart and Freiburg. His work results allow for understanding the nature of the world in microscale, they are used in new experimental works on the edge of physics and chemistry, and facilitate the development of new quantum technologies.
Prof. Tomza has obtained research grants: Sonata, Sonata Bis, and Opus (National Sciences Centre), Homing and First TEAM (Foundation for Polish Science), scholarships: Start from the Foundation for Polish Science, a scholarship of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland four outstanding early career researchers. Prof. Tomza’s research results are published in prestigious scientific journals, such as: “Nature”, “Nature Physics”, “Physical Review Letters”, or “Nature Communications”.