Kinetic Isotope Effects for the Reactions of Muonic Helium and Muonium with H2

Science  28 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6016, pp. 448-450
DOI: 10.1126/science.1199421

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The neutral muonic helium atom may be regarded as the heaviest isotope of the hydrogen atom, with a mass of ~4.1 atomic mass units (4.1H), because the negative muon almost perfectly screens one proton charge. We report the reaction rate of 4.1H with 1H2 to produce 4.1H1H + 1H at 295 to 500 kelvin. The experimental rate constants are compared with the predictions of accurate quantum-mechanical dynamics calculations carried out on an accurate Born-Huang potential energy surface and with previously measured rate constants of 0.11H (where 0.11H is shorthand for muonium). Kinetic isotope effects can be compared for the unprecedentedly large mass ratio of 36. The agreement with accurate quantum dynamics is quantitative at 500 kelvin, and variational transition-state theory is used to interpret the extremely low (large inverse) kinetic isotope effects in the 10−4 to 10−2 range.

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