We report on the Stark deceleration of a pulsed molecular beam of NO radicals. Stark deceleration of this chemically important species has long been considered unfeasible due to its small electric dipole moment of 0.16 D. We prepared the NO radicals in the X2Π3/2, v = 0, J = 3/2 spin-orbit excited state from the X2Π1/2, v = 0, J = 1/2 ground state by Franck–Condon pumping via the A2Σ+ state. The larger effective dipole moment in the J = 3/2 level of the X2Π3/2, v = 0 state, in combination with a 316-stages-long Stark decelerator, allowed us to decelerate NO radicals from 315.0 m/s to 229.2 m/s, thus removing 47% of their kinetic energy. The measured time-of-flight profiles of the NO radicals exiting the decelerator show good agreement with the outcome of numerical trajectory simulations.
© 2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston