Catalysis at Light Speed!

Catalysis at Light Speed!

Author: ChemistryViews

Using a laser, chemists lead by Rainer Beck, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, have been able to excite the vibrational state and orientate methane molecules for chemisorption on a Ni(100) surface.

Their results show, contrary to statistical rate theory, methane’s reaction probability is not only controlled by the available (vibrational) energy but is electronic state-specific and sensitive to C–H stretch alignment.

An increase in methane reactivity of up to 60 % was observed when the laser polarization was parallel rather than normal to the surface. Excitation by the infrared laser prepares CH4 for reaction by placing it in a single rovibrationally excited state. This state has aligned angular momentum and vibrational transition dipole moment within the laboratory frame.

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