A Homonuclear Molecule with a Permanent Electric Dipole Moment

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Science  25 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6059, pp. 1110-1114
DOI: 10.1126/science.1211255

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Permanent electric dipole moments in molecules require a breaking of parity symmetry. Conventionally, this symmetry breaking relies on the presence of heteronuclear constituents. We report the observation of a permanent electric dipole moment in a homonuclear molecule in which the binding is based on asymmetric electronic excitation between the atoms. These exotic molecules consist of a ground-state rubidium (Rb) atom bound inside a second Rb atom electronically excited to a high-lying Rydberg state. Detailed calculations predict appreciable dipole moments on the order of 1 Debye, in excellent agreement with the observations.

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