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Parallel temperatures in supersonic beams : Ultracooling of light atoms seeded in a heavier carrier gas

Supersonic expansion is a very powerful tool to produce an atomic beam with a well defined velocity and, by seeding a test gas in such an expansion, the energy of the test gas can be transferred, at least partially, to the very-low-temperature carrier gas. The case usually studied is the one of a heavy gas seeded in a light carrier gas and, in this case, the parallel temperature of the seeded gas is always larger than the one of the carrier gas. In the present paper, we study the opposite case which has received less attention : when a light gas is seeded in a heavier carrier gas, the parallel temperature can be substantially lower for the seeded gas than for the carrier gas. This effect has been first observed by Campargue and co-workers in 2000, in the case of atomic oxygen seeded in argon. In the present paper, we develop a theoretical analysis of this effect, in the high dilution limit, and we compare our theoretical results to several experimental observations, including a set of measurements we have made on a beam of lithium seeded in argon. The agreement between theory and experiments is good.


Voir en ligne : J. Chem. Phys. 122, 094308 (2005)