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NWO Start up for Sandra Brünken

‘ROSAA: An action spectroscopic tool to fingerprint molecules for astronomy’

Interstellar gas clouds, the birthplaces of stars, are known to harbour a wealth of complex organic molecules. Barrier less reactions  starting from rather simple molecular ions are the main drivers of the chemistry in these cold regions of space, leading to an increasing level of chemical complexity. Laboratory experiments providing spectroscopic fingerprint data on key intermediates in this interstellar chemistry are crucial for their detection in space, and to interpret the astronomical observations. However, reactive molecular ions are extremely difficult to investigate by standard spectroscopic techniques.

In this project Sandra Brünken, Christine Mohrmann fellow at the FELIX Laboratory, will establish a novel spectroscopic method to acquire high-resolution rotational spectra of molecular ions under isolated conditions in a cryogenic ion trap instrument. Complementary data on their vibrational spectra will be obtained using the FELIX infrared free electron lasers. In this way the spectroscopic fingerprints of a large class of astrophysically important ionic
species will be obtained, providing the necessary data for their identification in space. One PhD candidate will be working on this research. The funding awarded to the project amounts to just over 0.3 million euros.