Vibrational Promotion of Electron Transfer

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Science  06 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5489, pp. 111-114
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5489.111

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By using laser methods to prepare specific quantum states of gas-phase nitric oxide molecules, we examined the role of vibrational motion in electron transfer to a molecule from a metal surface free from the complicating influence of solvation effects. The signature of the electron transfer process is a highly efficient multiquantum vibrational relaxation event, where the nitrogen oxide loses hundreds of kilojoules per mole of energy on a subpicosecond time scale. These results cannot be explained simply on the basis of Franck-Condon factors. The large-amplitude vibrational motion associated with molecules in high vibrational states strongly modulates the energetic driving force of the electron transfer reaction. These results show the importance of molecular vibration in promoting electron transfer reactions, a class of chemistry important to molecular electronics devices, solar energy conversion, and many biological processes.

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