PerspectiveChemistry

Climbing Jacob's ladder

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Science  20 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6224, pp. 829
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5623

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Summary

The description of the potential energy surface of a single bond rotation is a standard concept for understanding chemical reactions and molecular motions (1). The energetic progression around a single bond in biphenyl (see the first figure) (2) provides an illustration. An entire conformational energy landscape can be captured with a simple reaction coordinate diagram or multidimensional potential energy surface (3). On page 863 of this issue, Pearson et al. describe a way to trap and observe an otherwise fleeting state at a rarified elevation of the conformational energy landscape (4).