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No Straight Path: Roaming in Both Ground- and Excited-State Photolytic Channels of NO3 → NO + O2

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Science  02 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6072, pp. 1075-1078
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216911

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Abstract

Roaming mechanisms have recently been observed in several chemical reactions alongside trajectories that pass through a traditional transition state. Here, we demonstrate that the visible light–induced reaction NO3 → NO + O2 proceeds exclusively by roaming. High-level ab initio calculations predict specific NO Λ doublet propensities (orientations of the unpaired electron with respect to the molecular rotation plane) for this mechanism, which we discern experimentally by ion imaging. The data provide direct evidence for roaming pathways in two different electronic states, corresponding to both previously documented photolysis channels that produce NO + O2. More broadly, the results raise intriguing questions about the overall prevalence of this unusual reaction mechanism.

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