Robust optimal control theory for selective vibrational excitation in molecules: A worst case analysis

Johan G.B. Beumee, Herschel Rabitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Recent research has demonstrated that optimal electromagnetic fields capable of producing selective vibrational excitation in molecules can be designed employing linear quadratic control methods using a cost functional that balances the energy distribution in the molecule, the fluence of the optical field, and a final cost to insure the desired excitation. Practical computations of molecular control theory for large molecules especially with anharmonic potentials become difficult to obtain due to the increased dimensionality and the accompanying uncertainty in the Hamiltonian. In this paper we reduce the complexity of the problem by treating a portion of the molecule including the target and optical dipoles in full detail, while the remainder of the molecule is modeled as an external disturbance of bounded energy. The optimal control field now minimizes the cost functional which is simultaneously maximized with respect to the energy constrained external disturbance to assure robustness. This optimal design process is commensurate with taking the most pessimistic view of the disturbance. This conservative view was born out in the numerical calculations such that practical laboratory studies should reach results much improved over the worst case design. As an illustration we investigate disturbances of varying energy content for a truncated 20 atom molecular chain where the uncontrolled remainder of the chain is the source of the system disturbance. The sensitivity of the system with respect to the disturbance was found to be strongly dependent on the distance of the disturbance to the target bond and the dipole arrangement. In addition, in the range of physically reasonable disturbance energy the optimal field could be accurately predicted from an asymptotic expansion involving only the reference undisturbed case. Although the present paper takes advantage of linear system techniques, the same robust optimal control procedure can be generalized to nonlinear systems by a variety of means.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1353-1364
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of chemical physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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