Molecular Beam Studies of Elementary Chemical Processes

Science  15 May 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4803, pp. 793-798
DOI: 10.1126/science.236.4803.793


The experimental investigation of elementary chemical reactions is presently in a very exciting period. The advance in modern microscopic experimental methods, especially crossed molecular beams and laser technology, has made it possible to explore the dynamics and mechanisms of important elementary chemical reactions in great detail. Through the continued accumulation of detailed and reliable knowledge about elementary reactions, we will be in a better position to understand, predict, and control many time-dependent macroscopic chemical processes that are important in nature or to human society.

In addition, because of recent improvements in the accuracy of theoretical predictions based on large-scale ab initio quantum mechanical calculations, meaningful comparisons between theoretical and experimental findings have become possible. In the remaining years of the 20th century, there is no doubt that the experimental investigation of the dynamics and mechanisms of elementary chemical reactions will play a very important role in bridging the gap between the basic laws of mechanics and the real world of chemistry.