Technical Developments

AM-CSIC group


New IR spectroscopy data in the laboratory in combination with theoretical modeling of solid structures and a detailed comparison with astronomical observations rule out the presence of pure and amorphous CO2 ice in space (AM-CSIC team in national collaboration).


The AM-CSIC Group has completed the implementation of the spectroscopic capabilities of the ISAC ultra-high-vacuum chamber (ISAC stands for “Interstellar Astrochemistry Chamber) at the Centro de Astrobiología in order to perform medium and far-infrared spectroscopy. Such improvements have been achieved through the acquisition of several instrumentation and components:


  • MgF2 and CaF2 windows: these are used for the sample deposition of interstellar and circunstellar mantle analogues (H2O, CO, CH3OH, CO2, NH3, …) as well as acetylene (C2H2) to study the possible formation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • CVD Diamond windows for ultra-high-vacuum: These will allow to make spectroscopy in ultra-high-vacuum conditions in the range between 250 nm to 30 cm-1. Diamond windows reduce significantly absorption problems, fluctuations from the source emissivity and the intrisic weakness of the absorption bands
  • Solid-state beam splitter: this accessory will be used to spread the spectral working range of the FTIR Vertex 70 spectrometer to the medium and far-infrared
  • Raman spectrometer: implementation of Raman spectroscopy at the ISAC chamber. In-situ Raman spectroscopy of ice samples, together with the infrared spectroscopy, will allow to associate the far-infrared bands to a concrete ice structure, both amorphous and crystalline types. This method will characterise the structure of the ice mantles in the interstellar dense clouds and the circumstellar medium. Raman spectroscopy will also detect organic products even at cryogenic temperatures

GEM-UVA group

Implementation of a high-resolution Molecular Beam Fourier Transform – Microwave spectrometer in the centimeter and millimeter wave frequency range. The existing 4 – 18 GHz frequency range will be extended to cover 60 GHz. Implementation of static absorption spectrometer to reach the 1 THz frequencies. All these techniques will allow the measurements of the rotational spectra in molecules of astrophysical interest, including:

  • High frequency (>1 THz) rotational spectrum of most abundant species
  • Isotopologues of the most abundant species
  • Vibrational excited states of most abundant species
  • Characterization of the spectra of potentially such as prebiotic ones (aminoacids), CN, CCH, OH, NO, NH2, derivatives of simple species such as CH2CH2, CH3CH3, CH3CH3CH3 and SiCn species that can be generated by using electrical discharge nozzles.


The GEM-UVA group is in full operational status to characterise the structures of molecules (molecules of astrophysical interest, biomolecules, etc) using rotational spectroscopy. Both frequency-domain and time-domain spectroscopy (coupled with laser ablation and heating/electric discharges) are described below:

Frequency domain: Two Stark Modulation Microwave Spectrometers 8-170 GHz (see figure below). The Microwave Source is a 8-50 GHz Backward Wave Oscillator (BWO) plus a cascade amplifier with Stark Modulation


Frequency domain: Sub-millimeter Wave Spectrometer 50-700 GHz (see figures below). Extension in frequency measurements up to 1 THz is foreseen with silicon bolometers. Studies on the millimeter and submillimeter spectra of ethyl/vinyl cyanide and phenol (see last figure).




  • Time domain (combination of supersonic expansions with Fourier Transform Spectroscopy): Molecular Beam Fourier Transform Microwave Spectrometer (MB-FTMW) 6-26 GHz (see figure below). Characterisation of molecular complexes (e.g. isolation of conformers of the 15-crown-5 ether, Publication number [72] in 2012 ASTROMOL Publications)
  • Time domain (combination of laser ablation with the previous configuration): Two Laser Ablation Molecular Beam Fourier Transform Microwave Spectrometers (LA-MB-FTMW) 2-12 GHz and 4-26.5 GHz
  • Time domain (LA-MB-FTMW plus electric discharges): 6-18 GHz (e.g. spectra assignment of AlCCH and AgCCH, Publication number [73] in 2012 ASTROMOL Publications


Time domain: Broadband Fourier Transform Microwave Spectroscopy (see figure below). Research of the broadband rotational spectra of solid biomolecules (e.g. nicotinic acid). See publication number [70] in 2012 ASTROMOL Publications.


PAST NEWS (Feb 2012)
The GEM-UVA group have adjusted both the source modulation millimeter-wave spectrometer and the Stark-modulation microwave spectrometer (see image below). These instruments are operational in the 12.4 to 170 GHz range. The acquisition of new multipliers will allow to extend the spectral coverage to 1.1 THz in the following months. An RF-MW double resonance set-up has been developed and adjusted to assign rotational espectra to vibrational excited states in molecules of astrophysical interest. The construction of a Laser Ablation Chirped-Pulse molecular-beam Fourier-transform microwave spectroscopy (CP-MB-FTMW, see also image below) has been completed in order to study inorganic binary compounds of astrophysical interest.

LHM-UCM group

Development of a high-resolution laser-beam to measure photodetachment spectra of anions with rovibrational resolution. Construction of the nozzle chamber to incorporate an electron gun to produce the negative ion beam. These techniques will provide:

  • Measurements of the total NO-He, NO-H2 and NO-O2 collision cross-sections for each system by monitoring the beam attenuation after their interaction with He and H2
  • State-selected two-photon laser ionization of the NO molecule will be used to monitor the beam intensity and subsequently to derive the respective state-selected cross-sections.

FOLLOW-UP NEWS (feb 2013)

The LHM-UCM group has constructed a new molecular beam apparatus has been built as stated at the beginning of 2012 to produce intense anion beams and perform anion spectroscopy (see figure below). Preliminary photodetachment data of H2 have been obtained. The group is working to increase the sensitivity of this technique with a multi pass mirror system for laser beam and the improvement of the pressure stability of the discharge. The first target will be C5H (photodetachment and polarisation).

Data acquisition

PAST NEWS (Feb 2012)
The LHM-UCM group have developed a molecular-beam setup to produce intense anion beams to be studied through high resolution spectroscopy (characterisation of the anion sources, mass spectra and anions deceleration). A general view of the experimental setup is shown below. A new source of high-voltage cathode discharge coupled to a supersonic expansion valve nozzle has been acquired.



Design and construction of an ion-trap system consisting of 22 poles in order to induce the reactions of ionic PAHs with molecular hydrogen with as little as several trapped thousand ions. Gas phase neutral and ionic PAHs will be prepared by laser or thermal desorption, or electrospray ionization, and transferred to a supersonic expansion or stored in a 22-pole ion trap, at temperatures ranging from room temperature to 10K. These methods will allow the characterization of the spectroscopic signatures of PAHs, their photochemistry and the reactions of ionic PAHs with molecular hydrogen.


Throughout 2012, the core of the equipment and the multipole trap have been tested and some components have been optimised. It is expected that the instrument will be fully operational in mid-2013.


PAST NEWS (Feb 2012)
The IONTRAP-UPO and DINQUIM-UCM groups have finished the design and construction of the modules for trapping and ion-cryogenics (see figure, label 1) and for the ion detection with TOF mass espectrometry (label 2). The testing process is ongoing. Throughout 2012, it is expected that the remaining modules for ion generation (3) and filtering and guiding towards the iontrap system (4) will be fully operational.

GFM-CSIC group


Incorporation of a high power pulsed laser and construction of a new plasma refrigerated reactor in order to measure low temperature (5 – 200 K) state-to-state collision rate coefficients from the rotational population evolution in supersonic gas jets. An experimental methodology to measure vibration-translation collision rate coefficients at high temperature, and fast kinetics and energy transfer in plasmas by pulsed excitation will also be developed.


  • High-res Infrared Spectroscopy Laboratory: the setup for frequency measurements has been completed with the final acquisition of the wavemeter (delivered in September 2012). The fine tuning of the multi pass cell with hollow cathode discharge has been completed for the production of molecular ions. The goal is to obtain better vibration-rotation transition frequencies of molecular ions (see figure below).


  • Cold Plasmas Laboratory: The ionic chemistry of various hydrogen mixtures (H2/N2, H2/O2, and H2/air) has been studied in low-pressure hollow cathode discharges. The major ions identified in the different discharges (H+3, N2H+, H3O+ and NH+4) have been also found in astronomical observations or predicted in astrochemical models. These results support the predictions of some astrochemical models indicating that NH+4 ions could be dominant in warm astronomical environments where H2O and NH3 molecules evaporate from dust grain mantles (see Publication number [85] in 2012 ASTROMOL Publications).
  • Molecular Fluid Dynamics Laboratory: Five complete series of H2O+He supersonic jets have been measured and analysed. The first experimental results of the inellastic collisional rates for ortho-H2O with He at 100 K and 40 K are shown (see Publication: G. Tejeda et al., AIP Conf. Proc. 1501, 1305 (2012)).

PAST NEWS (Feb 2012)

  • Cold Plasmas Laboratory: The high resolution visible spectrometer Jobin-Yvon FHR1000 has been acquired and adjusted. Several emission measurements of H2 and H2+N2 discharges are in progress. An equipment for coupling effects in inductive discharges with radio frequency on a Pyrex shielded reactor is being adjusted in order to minimize the effects of reactions at the surface.
  • High-res Infrared Spectroscopy Laboratory: The adjustment of the difference-frequency infrared spectrometer is in progress.
  • Molecular Fluid Dynamics Laboratory: We have improved the source for water vapour in expansion chamber experiments with a sophisticated system to control the temperature, pressure and flux of the components. This allows to generate H2O and its mixtures with He and H2 controlled expansions in between 40 and 1000 mbar. The experimental set-up has been substantially improved with the acquisition of two high-capacity pumps.



Setting up of a pulsed Laval supersonic nozzle apparatus with laser-induced fluorescence detection for kinetic studies (CRESU)in order to achieve temperatures as low as 10 K. The characteristics of each Laval nozzle will be critical to reach a specific temperature range and that implies the desigh of several nozzles to cover the desired range of temperatures. The goal is the combination of two different techniques (discharge flow and CRESU) to investigate the temperature dependende of the reaction rates.


The pulsed CRESU experimental setup has been successfully completed. The setup will be validated through 2013 with the study of the reaction of OH with 1-butene at 23 K thus obtaining the first experimental results. See figure below to have a look at the whole experimental setup at the end of 2012.


PAST NEWS (Feb 2012)
The QYCA-UCLM group have designed the reaction chamber for the pulsed Laval supersonic nozzle apparatus (CRESU). The essential parts of the CRESU system are the spinning rotor gauge, the nozzle and the reaction chamber. The spinning rotor gauge and its engine, which will be coupled to the nozzle, have just been acquired. The acquisition of the nozzle and the chamber reaction, which are being developed at the University of Rennes I, will be completed in mid 2012. The experimental set-up is shown below.



Development of new time-dependant numerical codes to treat inellastic and reactive collisions involving more than 3 atoms. Extension of Quantum Statistical Methods to treat diatomic and triatomic reactions such as the HD + H3+ ⇒ H2D+ + H2 isotopic exchange reaction. Development of ab initio methods to derive molecular structures, dipolar moments and theoretical rovibrational levels. Theoretical determination of energy levels and spectra of molecular clusters.


  • Simulation of the infrared pre-dissociation spectrum of H5+ (see publications number [54] and [55] in 2012 ASTROMOL Publications)
  • Development of a dynamically biased statistical model to describe the evolution of the ortho/para conversion in the H2 + H3+ → H3+ + H2 reaction from statistical to a more direct mechanism, using quasi-classical trajectories (QCT) (see publication number [50] in 2012 ASTROMOL Publications)
  • Study of the dynamics and kinetics of the Li + H2+ reaction and its isotopic variants (D2+ and T2+) with the DINQUIM-UCM group. The calculated reaction rates will be used in astrophysical models (see publication number [59] in 2012 ASTROMOL Publications). The study of the dynamics and kinetics of the C+ + H2 reaction with the AM-CSIC group will be published at the beginning of 2013.
  • Calculation of the potential energy curves (including orbital-spin coupling) of the Ca+ + H, Mg + H and Sr + H systems in order to study the depolarisation of the Ca+(2P and 2D) electronic excited states in collisions with atomic hydrogen. Furthermore, such collisions have been studied through the development of programs to resolve coupled differential equations resulting from the Schrödinger equation and the depolarisation coefficients have been calculated. This work (2013) has been carried out together with the RT-IAC group.

PAST NEWS (Feb 2012)
The ABIDIN-CSIC group have reached the following goals:

  • Calculation of the Potential Energy Surface of the H5+ system, including all the degrees of freedom.
  • Characterisation of bound states, the predissociative, vibrationally excited states involved in the electric dipole transitions of H5+.
  • Accurate time dependent wave packet calculations for the Li+HF, N+OH, O+HF y Li+H2+ reactions. These results should have an important impact in the study of the chemistry of these molecules and their possible detection in the Interstellar Medium.



Development of empirical and ab initio methods to calculate the potential energy and dipolar moment functions of molecular species. Determination of global Potential Energy Surfaces (PESs) of inelastic systems for which global PESs are not available.


  • Calculation of the pure rotational and vibration-rotation spectra of the NaCl and KCl molecules and their corresponding isotopic species by using both high-accurate potential energy curves and semiempirical dipole momentum functions.
  • Calculation of the transition frequencies between highly-excited rotational and rovibrational states in linear triatomic molecules (CO2 and N2O) and their corresponding isotopic species. Extension to other triatomic molecules of astrophysical interest is foreseen throughout this year.

PAST NEWS (Feb 2012)
The LEMQC-UMU group have treated the theoretical characterisation of the rovibrational spectrum of linear triatomic molecules: N2O, CO2, FCN and HCN. Hence:

  • The frequencies of rotational transitions for N2O (main isotopologue: 14-14-16; isotopologue: 14-15-16) have been calculated.
  • The spectroscopic constants Gv and Bv for CO2 (isotopologue 16OCO; main isotopologue 16-12-16 and isotopologue 16-13-17), FCN (isotoplogue 19-13-14) have been calculated.
  • The spectroscopic constants Gv and Bv for HCN together with the frequencies of rotational transitions have been calculated.