PerspectiveChemistry

Energy Flow Under Control

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Science  09 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5950, pp. 245-246
DOI: 10.1126/science.1179694

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Summary

Controlling energy transfer at the molecular scale has been a long-standing goal since the development of high-power lasers in the 1960s. Appreciable advances toward this goal have been made with demonstrations of laser-controlled energy flow in natural and artificial light-harvesting antennas (1, 2). Based on closed-loop control experiments (3, 4), these techniques can efficiently shape femtosecond laser pulses to control and optimize a variety of molecular processes. However, the details of the resulting control mechanisms are difficult to extract from a cursory examination of the shaped pulses. On page 263 of this issue, Kuroda et al. (5) report an important contribution toward understanding shaped laser pulses that control energy transfer at the molecular scale. The reported insights on the control mechanism are valuable to understand laser control, in general, in a variety of molecular systems with common relaxation processes.