Molecular ions play a pivotal role in the chemistry of the interstellar medium due to their high reactivity even at low temperature. To identify these ions in interstellar space, it is essential to obtain high resolution laboratory spectra of potential interstellar ions for comparison to observational data. At the University of Illinois, we are developing a Sensitive, Cooled, Resolved Ion BEam Spectrometer (SCRIBES) that will allow us to obtain high resolution infrared direct absorption spectra of rotationally cold molecular ions in the absence of neutral molecules. This instrument can overcome many of the problems that arise when using other spectroscopic techniques. It benefits from the high sensitivity of cavity enhanced techniques and accurate laser frequency calibration using a frequency comb. Currently, we are using a cold cathode ion source to produce an N2+ test beam that will be studied using SCRIBES.


Astrophysics and Astronomy