We explore the properties of three-atom complexes of alkali-metal diatomic molecules with alkali-metal atoms, which may be formed in ultracold collisions. We estimate the densities of vibrational states at the energy of atom–diatom collisions, and find values ranging from 2.2 to 350 K−1. However, this density does not account for electronic near-degeneracy or electron and nuclear spins. We consider the fine and hyperfine structure expected for such complexes. The Fermi contact interaction between electron and nuclear spins can cause spin exchange between atomic and molecular spins. It can drive inelastic collisions, with resonances of three distinct types, each with a characteristic width and peak height in the inelastic rate coefficient. Some of these resonances are broad enough to overlap and produce a background loss rate that is approximately proportional to the number of outgoing inelastic channels. Spin exchange can increase the density of states from which laser-induced loss may occur.
Frye, M. D., & Hutson, J. M. (2021). Complexes formed in collisions between ultracold alkali-metal diatomic molecules and atoms. New Journal of Physics, 23(12), Article 125008. https://doi.org/10.1088/1367-2630/ac3ff8