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Observation of the fastest chemical processes in the radiolysis of water

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Science  10 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6474, pp. 179-182
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz4740

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The “hole” story of water ionization

The direct observation of the cationic hole H2O+ that is formed in liquid water after ionization has been a long-standing experimental challenge. Previous attempts using optical and ultraviolet techniques have failed to reveal its key spectroscopic signature during ultrafast transformation into a OH radical. Loh et al. address this gap by using intense, ultrafast x-ray pulses from an x-ray free electron laser at ∼530 electron volts. They found compelling evidence for the formation H2O+ and its decay to an OH radical by a proton transfer mechanism and elucidated the other fastest–time scale steps in the early-time dynamics of ionized liquid water.

Science, this issue p. 179

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