Imaging covalent bond formation by H atom scattering from graphene

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Science  26 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6438, pp. 379-382
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw6378

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Atom scattering reveals bond formation

When molecules collide, they can form an addition complex in which new chemical bonds can form. However, if energy does not flow out of this complex and into the rest of the molecule, the new bond will usually simply dissociate. Jiang et al. observed the scattering of hydrogen atoms from graphene and interpreted their results with a first-principles potential energy surface and a dynamical simulation (see the Perspective by Hornekaer). At near-normal incidence, these experiments probe transient carbon-hydrogen bond formation when the hydrogen atoms collide with the centers of the six-atom carbon rings. Rapid intramolecular vibrational relaxation results from orbital rehybridization and structural deformations that occur during bond formation.

Science, this issue p. 379; see also p. 331