Photochemistry of Ozone: Surprises and Recent Lessons

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Science  03 Apr 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5360, pp. 60-61
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5360.60

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The hydroxyl radical OH is nature's detergent--it oxidizes pollutants and removes them from the atmosphere. Hydroxyl is created in the photolysis of atmospheric ozone, and the mechanisms and rates of production of OH are therefore very important. In their commentary, Ravishankara et al. discuss recent research into the details of ozone photolysis, particularly the role of electronically excited oxygen atoms. Surprisingly, long wavelength ultraviolet solar radiation has a greater influence on ozone photodissociation than previously believed.