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Rydberg molecules

Rydberg molecules are electronically excited species. Electronically excited molecular states are generally quite different in character from electronically excited atomic states. However, particularly for highly electronically excited molecular systems, the ionic core interaction with an excited electron can take on the general aspects of the interaction between the proton and the electron in the hydrogen atom. The spectroscopic assignment of these states follows the Rydberg formula and they are called Rydberg states of molecules. Rydberg series are associated with partially removing an electron from the ionic core.

Each Rydberg series of energies converges on an ionization energy threshold associated with a particular ionic core configuration. These quantized Rydberg energy levels can be associated with the quasiclassical Bohr atomic picture. The closer you get to the ionization threshold energy, the higher the principal quantum number, and the smaller the energy difference between near threshold Rydberg states. As the electron is promoted to higher energy levels in a Rydberg series, the spacial excursion of the electron from the ionic core increases and the system is more like the Bohr quasiclassical picture.

The Rydberg states of molecules with low principal quantum numbers can interact with the other excited electronic states of the molecule. This can cause shifts in energy. The assignment of molecular Rydberg states often involves following a Rydberg series from intermediate to high principal quantum numbers. The energy of Rydberg states can be refined by including a correction called the quantum defect in the Rydberg formula. The quantum defect correction can be associated with the presence of a distributed ionic core.

The experimental study of molecular Rydberg states has been conducted with traditional methods for generations. However, the development of laser-based techniques such as Resonance Ionization Spectroscopy has allowed relatively easy access to these Rydberg molecules as intermediates. This is particularly true for Resonance Enhanced Multiphoton Ionization (REMPI) spectroscopy, since multiphoton processes involve different selection rules from single photon processes. The study of high principal quantum number Rydberg states has spawned a number of spectroscopic techniques. These "near threshold Rydberg states" can have long lifetimes, particularly for the higher orbital angular momentum states that do not interact strongly with the ionic core.


Molecular Spectra and Molecular Structure, Vol. I, II and III, Gerhard Herzberg, Krieger Pub. Co, revised ed. 1991.

ATOMS & MOLECULES, Martin Karplus and Richard N. Porter, Benjamin & Company, Inc., 1970.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Rydberg_molecules". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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