Nuclear spin blockade of laser ignition of intramolecular rotation in the model boron rotor 11B13+
Grohmann,Thomas and Haase,Dietrich and Jia,Dongming and Manz,Jörn and Yang,Yonggang – 2018
The boron rotor 11B13+ consists of a tri-atomic inner “wheel” that may rotate in its pseudo-rotating ten-atomic outer “bearing”—this concerted motion is called “contorsion.” 11B13+ in its ground state has zero contorsional angular momentum. Starting from this initial state, it is a challenge to ignite contorsion by a laser pulse. We discover, however, that this is impossible, i.e., one cannot design any laser pulse that induces a transition from the ground to excited states with non-zero contorsional angular momentum. The reason is that the ground state is characterized by a specific combination of irreducible representations (IRREPs) of its contorsional and nuclear spin wavefunctions. Laser pulses conserve these IRREPs because hypothetical changes of the IRREPs would require nuclear spin flips that cannot be realized during the interaction with the laser pulse. We show that all excited target states of 11B13+ with non-zero contorsional angular momentum have different IRREPs that are inaccessible by laser pulses. Conservation of nuclear spins thus prohibits laser-induced transitions from the non-rotating ground to rotating target states. We discover various additional constraints imposed by conservation of nuclear spins, e.g., laser pulses can change clockwise to counter-clockwise contorsions or vice versa, but they cannot stop them. The results are derived in the frame of a simple model.