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Observation of an isomerizing double-well quantum system in the condensed phase

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Science  10 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6474, pp. 175-178
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz3407

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Upside-down molecules on a salt surface

The quantum states of molecules are usually measured in gas-phase studies to minimize collisions that would blur the spectra. However, for carbon monoxide (CO) molecules adsorbed on a NaCl(100) surface, infrared emission from even high vibrational states can be resolved. In quantum-state resolved spectra, Lau et al. found that infrared-laser excitation of a monolayer of CO adsorbed on NaCl(100) forms an isomer in which CO binds to Na+ through its O atom in an upside-down configuration (see the Perspective by Wu). These results could be understood with a simple vibrationally adiabatic electrostatic theory, making this system convenient for studies of the isomerization chemistry.

Science, this issue p. 175; see also p. 148

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