Setting the Trap for Reactive Resonances

Science  19 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5972, pp. 1460-1461
DOI: 10.1126/science.1187822

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A chemical reaction occurs when molecules collide, resulting in the re arrangement of the atomic nuclei from reactant to product configurations. The rearrangement dynamics takes place on the blindingly fast time scale of molecular vibrations (10−14 to 10−13 s). Sometimes, however, the nuclei can become temporarily trapped during a reactive collision, resulting in a metastable quantum state that typically lasts for 10−13 to 10−12 s before it decays into reactants or products. These short-lived states, called reactive resonances, are extremely difficult to observe. On page 1501 of this issue, Dong et al. (1) report the detection of three individual reactive resonances in the F + HD → HF + D reaction.