Quantum interference in H + HD → H2 + D between direct abstraction and roaming insertion pathways

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Science  15 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6492, pp. 767-771
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb1564

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Intriguing interference mechanism

Quantum interference (QI) effects play a fundamental role in the dynamics of chemical reactions. Xie et al. detected unusual QI oscillations in the differential cross section measured in the recoil scattering direction of the prototypical elementary reaction H + HD → H2 + D (see the Perspective by Aoiz). Topological analysis showed that this pattern originates from the QI between a direct abstraction and previously unknown rebounding insertion pathways, which are affected by the geometric phase at energies far below the conical intersection. The QI observed between these two distinctive pathways in the three-atom system is a clear example of the quantum nature of chemical reactivity.

Science, this issue p. 767; see also p. 706


Understanding quantum interferences is essential to the study of chemical reaction dynamics. Here, we provide an interesting case of quantum interference between two topologically distinct pathways in the H + HD → H2 + D reaction in the collision energy range between 1.94 and 2.21 eV, manifested as oscillations in the energy dependence of the differential cross section for the H2 (v′ = 2, j′ = 3) product (where v′ is the vibrational quantum number and j′ is the rotational quantum number) in the backward scattering direction. The notable oscillation patterns observed are attributed to the strong quantum interference between the direct abstraction pathway and an unusual roaming insertion pathway. More interestingly, the observed interference pattern also provides a sensitive probe of the geometric phase effect at an energy far below the conical intersection in this reaction, which resembles the Aharonov–Bohm effect in physics, clearly demonstrating the quantum nature of chemical reactivity.

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