- Electroweak quantum chemistry: Parity violation in spectra of chiral molecules containing heavy atoms (2012)
- The intriguing effects of electroweak induced parity violation (PV) in molecules have yet to be observed, but experiments on molecular PV promise to provide fascinating insights. They potentially offer a novel testing ground for the low energy sector of the standard model and, in addition, a successful measurement of PV differences between the two enantiomers of a chiral molecule could promote a deeper understanding of molecular chirality, by essentially establishing a new link between particle physics and biochemistry. A key challenge in the design of such experiments is the identification of suitable molecules, which in turn requires widely applicable computational schemes for the prediction of PV experimental signals. To this end, a quasirelativistic density functional theory approach to the calculation of PV effects in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra of chiral molecules has been developed and implemented during the course of this thesis. It includes relativistic as well as electron--correlation effects and has been used extensively in the screening of molecules possibly suited for a first observation of molecular PV. Some relevant compound classes have been identified, but none of their selected representatives are predicted to exhibit PV NMR frequency shifts that can be detected under current experimental restrictions. In order to advance the design of molecules which exhibit particularly large PV signals in experiments, systematic effects on PV NMR frequency splittings such as scaling with nuclear charge, conformational dependence and the impact of atomic substitution around the NMR active nucleus have been studied. Previously predicted scaling laws were confirmed and it was determined that the environment of the NMR active nucleus, both in terms of conformation and atomic composition, can be tuned to increase PV frequency shifts by several orders of magnitude. In addition to molecules suited for NMR experiments, a fascinating chiral actinide compound was studied with regard to PV frequency shifts in vibrational spectra. This compound displays the largest such shift ever predicted for an existing molecule, which lies well within the attainable experimental resolution. The challenge now lies in making it compatible with current experimental setups.