Chemical applications of laser- and sympathetically-cooled ions in ion traps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Stefan Willitsch
  • Martin T. Bell
  • Alexander D. Gingell
  • Tim Softley


Ensembles of cold atomic and molecular ions in ion traps prepared at millikelvin temperatures by laser and sympathetic cooling have recently found considerable interest in both physics and chemistry. At very low temperatures the ions form ordered structures in the trap also known as “Coulomb crystals”. Ion Coulomb crystals exhibit a range of intriguing properties which render them attractive systems for novel experiments in chemical dynamics, ultrahigh-resolution spectroscopy and quantum-information processing. In this article we review the methods used to prepare atomic and molecular ion Coulomb crystals and discuss some recent studies in mass spectrometry, low-temperature chemistry and precision spectroscopy to illustrate their scientific potential for chemical applications. Finally, we conclude with an outlook on outstanding challenges and prospective further developments in the field.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7200-7210
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number48
Early online date22 Oct 2008
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2008