Inelastic scattering is a fundamental collisional process that plays an important role in many areas of chemistry, and its detailed study can provide valuable insight into more complex chemical systems. Here, we report the measurement of differential cross-sections for the rotationally inelastic scattering of NO(X²Π1/2, v=0, j=0.5, f ) by Ar at a collision energy of 530 cm-1 in unprecedented detail, with full Λ-doublet (hence total NO parity) resolution in both the initial and final rotational quantum states. The observed differential cross-sections depend sensitively on the change in total NO parity on collision. Differential cross-sections for total parity-conserving and changing collisions have distinct, novel quantum-mechanical interference structures, reflecting different sensitivities to specific homonuclear and heteronuclear terms in the interaction potential. The experimental data agree remarkably well with rigorous quantum-mechanical scattering calculations, and reveal the role played by total parity in acting as a potential energy landscape filter.
Nature Chem.

Eyles, C. J., Brouard, M., Yang, C.-H., Kłos, J., Aoiz, F. J., Gijsbertsen, A., … Stolte, S. (2011). Interference structures in the differential cross-sections for inelastic scattering of NO by Ar. Nature Chem., 3, 597–602. doi:10.1038/nchem.1071