Lithium atoms on helium nanodroplets: Rydberg series and ionization dynamics

Florian Lackner*, Günter Krois, Wolfgang E. Ernst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The electronic excitation spectrum of lithium atoms residing on the surface of helium nanodroplets is presented and analyzed employing a Rydberg-Ritz approach. Utilizing resonant two-photon ionization spectroscopy, two different Rydberg series have been identified: one assigned to the nS(Σ) series and the other with predominantly nP(Π) character. For high Rydberg states, which have been resolved up to n = 13, the surrounding helium effectively screens the valence electron from the Li ion core, as indicated by the apparent red-shift of Li transitions and lowered quantum defects on the droplet with respect to their free atom counterparts. For low n states, the screening effect is weakened and the prevailing repulsive interaction gives rise to strongly broadened and blue-shifted transitions. The red-shifts originate from the polarization of nearby He atoms by the positive Li ion core. As a consequence of this effect, the ionization threshold is lowered by 116 ± 10 cm-1 for Li on helium droplets with a radius of about 40 Å. Upon single-photon ionization, heavy complexes corresponding to Li ions attached to intact helium droplets are detected. We conclude that ionization close to the on-droplet ionization threshold triggers a dynamic process in which the Li ion core undergoes a transition from a surface site into the droplet.

Original languageEnglish
Article number184302
JournalThe Journal of Chemical Physics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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