Titanium and oxygen pulled apart by light

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Science  22 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6271, pp. 351-352
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6271.351-d

Light absorption often prompts extremely rapid chemical changes in the absorbing medium that in turn can stimulate chemical reactivity. Yoo et al. applied ultrafast electron microscopy to elucidate these changes in a class of titanium silicate catalysts that harness light to transform nitric oxide, CO2, and various other small molecules. The titanium centers start out in a square pyramid geometry with a double-bonded oxygen at the apex. Less than trillionths of a second after the light absorption, the microscopy data captured a lengthening of this bond that was consistent with reduction of the titanium to a Ti3+-O1− motif primed for ensuing reactivity.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1522869113 (2016).

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