Observation of the geometric phase effect in the H + HD → H2 + D reaction

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Science  14 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6420, pp. 1289-1293
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav1356

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Pinpointing the role of geometric phase

During chemical reactions, electrons usually rearrange more quickly than nuclei. Thus, theorists often adopt an adiabatic framework that considers vibrational and rotational dynamics within single electronic states. Near the regime where two electronic states intersect, the dynamics get more complicated, and a geometric phase factor is introduced to maintain the simplifying power of the adiabatic treatment. Yuan et al. conducted precise experimental measurements that validate this approach. They studied the elementary H + HD reaction at energies just above the intersection of electronic states and observed angular oscillations in the product-state cross sections that are well reproduced by simulations that include the geometric phase.

Science, this issue p. 1289


Theory has established the importance of geometric phase (GP) effects in the adiabatic dynamics of molecular systems with a conical intersection connecting the ground- and excited-state potential energy surfaces, but direct observation of their manifestation in chemical reactions remains a major challenge. Here, we report a high-resolution crossed molecular beams study of the H + HD → H2 + D reaction at a collision energy slightly above the conical intersection. Velocity map ion imaging revealed fast angular oscillations in product quantum state–resolved differential cross sections in the forward scattering direction for H2 products at specific rovibrational levels. The experimental results agree with adiabatic quantum dynamical calculations only when the GP effect is included.

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