The Exacting Task of Bringing Molecules to Attention – Bretislav Friedrich, Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society
Molecules are relentlessly dynamic – vibrating, cartwheeling, and zigzagging in a restless hustle. In order to study molecular properties and interactions, their motions must be tamed to a certain degree. In particular, the ability to make molecules face in a specific direction – to align or orient their axis – is sought in many diverse research areas. Bretislav Friedrich and his team at the Fritz Haber Institute, together with collaborators at Harvard, Purdue, Universität Regensburg, and the Freie Universität Berlin, have devised ways to coerce molecules into alignment and orientation. At the same time, they found exact solutions to the Schrödinger equation for particular strengths of the interactions between molecules and the electromagnetic fields that cause the aligning and orienting.