Low energy methods of molecular laser isotope separation
G.N. Makarov Institute of Spectroscopy, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Fizicheskaya 5, Troitsk, Moscow, 108840, Russian Federation
Of the many proposals to date for laser assisted isotope separation methods, the isotope-selective infrared (IR) multiphoton dissociation (MPD) of molecules has been most fully developed. This concept served as the basis for the development and operation of the carbon isotope separation facility in Kaliningrad, Russia. The extension of this method to heavy ions, including uranium, is hindered by, among other factors, the high power consumption and the lack of high-efficiency high-power laser systems. In this connection, research and development for low energy methods for the laser separation of isotopes (including those of heavy atoms) is in high current demand. This paper reviews approaches to the realization of IR-laser induced isotope-selective processes, some of which are potentially the basis on which low-energy methods for molecular laser isotope separation can be developed. The basic physics and chemistry, application potential, and strengths and weaknesses of these approaches are discussed. Potentially promising alternatives to the title methods are examined.