Beryllium Dimer—Caught in the Act of Bonding

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Science  19 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5934, pp. 1548-1551
DOI: 10.1126/science.1174326

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The beryllium dimer is a deceptively simple molecule that, in spite of having only eight electrons, poses difficult challenges for ab initio quantum chemical methods. More than 100 theoretical investigations of the beryllium dimer have been published, reporting a wide range of bond lengths and dissociation energies. In contrast, there have been only a handful of experimental studies that provide data against which these models could be tested. Ultimately, the uncertain extrapolation behavior associated with the available data has prevented quantitative comparisons with theory. In our experiment, we resolve this issue by recording and analyzing spectra that sample all the bound vibrational levels of the beryllium dimer molecule’s electronic ground state. After more than 70 years of research on this problem, the experimental data and theoretical models for the dimer are finally reconciled.

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