Interfering with Water

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Science  20 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5431, pp. 1218-1219
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5431.1218

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Dissociation of water by sunlight--photodissociation--occurs continuously in Earth's atmosphere. Much studied in the past, this system still holds surprises. Dixon et al. (page 1249) show that when excited by light at 121.6 nm, water dissociates via two different channels to form the same products. The channels behave like two slits, resulting in quantum interference between the dissociation channels; this can be detected in the rotational state distribution of the product molecules.