Observation of Individual Chemical Reactions in Solution

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Science  30 Jun 1995:
Vol. 268, Issue 5219, pp. 1883-1885
DOI: 10.1126/science.268.5219.1883


Discrete chemical reaction events occurring in solution have been observed by single photon detection of a bimolecular, chemiluminescent reaction. The reactants were generated from 9,10-diphenylanthracene in acetonitrile with potential pulses applied to an ultramicroelectrode. Electrogenerated radical ions of opposite sign react to yield the excited singlet state of the parent compound. The chemical reactions were restricted to a 20-femtoliter volume adjacent to the electrode by the use of rapid potential pulses. Individual chemical reaction events were stochastic and followed the Poisson distribution, and the interarrival time between successive reaction events was exponentially distributed.