Articles

Fractal Reaction Kinetics

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Science  23 Sep 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4873, pp. 1620-1626
DOI: 10.1126/science.241.4873.1620

Abstract

Classical reaction kinetics has been found to be unsatisfactory when the reactants are spatially constrained on the microscopic level by either walls, phase boundaries, or force fields. Recently discovered theories of heterogeneous reaction kinetics have dramatic consequences, such as fractal orders for elementary reactions, self-ordering and self-unmixing of reactants, and rate coefficients with temporal "memories." The new theories were needed to explain the results of experiments and supercomputer simulations of reactions that were confined to low dimensions or fractal dimensions or both. Among the practical examples of "fractal-like kinetics" are chemical reactions in pores of membranes, excitation trapping in molecular aggregates, exciton fusion in composite materials, and charge recombination in colloids and clouds.