Meet a new molecule

A theoretical physicist from Western helped create a new molecule

A research team that includes a theoretical physicist from Western has created a new molecule that eventually could be used to develop the next generation of computing technology.

Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Seth Rittenhouse (’02, Mathematics, Physics; ’03, Mathematics) was on a team led by University of Oklahoma’s James Shaffer.

The molecule, first theorized in 2000, is often known as a trilobite Rydberg dimer. They might have the largest-ever-recorded electric dipole moment, a property that determines how the molecule reacts to electric fields. One possible application for the new molecule could, eventually, be in the development of quantum computers, devices that can perform computations far faster than our current transistor-based technologies.

Rittenhouse received his doctorate from the University of Colorado at Boulder and completed a post-doc at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Harvard University Department of Physics. He has taught at Western since 2012.

Read more about the new molecule in the May 2015 edition of Nature Physics.

Photo courtesy of AAAS