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MARGINALIA

A Really Moving Story

Roald Hoffmann

The Arrow in a New Light

The light is that of lasers, in the service of transforming change itself. Chemists have always been interested in mechanism, the answer to the simple question "How? How does it happen?" The response comes out of looking closer at the arrow in A + B → C + D, finding the many sequential arrows hidden in the gross transformation. The newer work, both femtosecond spectroscopy (to be discussed in a future Marginalia) and the two studies mentioned here, consistently uses lasers. They deliver precise dollops of energy, to disrupt or characterize bonds and motions in a molecule. In the laser's bright light, we are seeing signposts, I think, to a new dynamics.

© Roald Hoffmann








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