Chemistry

Stretching the Polanyi Rules

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Science  14 Dec 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6113, pp. 1397
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6113.1397-b

Forty years ago, Polanyi laid out a framework to explain and predict the relative effectiveness of translational and vibrational energy in driving the reactions of atoms with diatomics. The current frontier in state-resolved molecular dynamics research encompasses the reactions of halogen atoms with methane and its various isotopologues—a six-atom system. Over the past several years, successive experimental and theoretical studies have sought to clarify the extent to which the Polanyi Rules apply (or fail to apply) to such systems. For the reaction of chlorine with CHD3, the Rules suggest that the product-like transition state ought to favor the efficacy of vibration over translation, although the results of recent studies have been ambiguous in this regard. Zhang et al. now report quantum dynamics simulations of this reaction and compare their results with those from previous experiments and quasiclassical trajectories. The simulations suggest that C–H stretch excitation does indeed promote the reaction, except at collision energies below 1 kcal/mol.

J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 10.1021/jz301649w (2012).

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