Divalent Carbon Intermediates: Laser Photolysis and Spectroscopy

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Science  28 Sep 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4669, pp. 1439-1445
DOI: 10.1126/science.225.4669.1439


A brief review is given of the structures of an important class of reactive intermediates, divalent carbon species (carbenes). The electronic properties of carbenes force an unusual electronic character upon these species that, in turn, leads to intriguing physical and chemical properties. Because of the fleeting nature of carbenes, which are extraordinarily reactive, direct investigation of their structural and chemical behavior has presented a challenge to the experimentalist. The application of spectroscopic and ultrafast laser techniques has met this challenge. With the use of laser methods, along with conventional techniques, quantitative evaluation of the energetics, dynamics, and reactivities of a variety of carbenes has been possible.