Lasers Induce Transformation of Benzene
Multiple 70-mW continuous-wave laser sources have been used by researchers from the Università di Firenze and the European Laboratory for Nonlinear Spectroscopy and INFM, both in Florence, Italy, to induce the chemical transformation of crystalline benzene into an amorphous solid at a pressure of 16 GPa by selectively pumping the lowest electronic excited state of the molecule. This is well below the 23 GPa at which the reaction is normally induced through pressure distortion.
The researchers, who reported on their work in the Feb. 25 issue of Physical Review Letters, used the method to identify the chemical mechanism of the transformation. They predict that such use of laser light to induce molecular changes will be widely employed to reduce reaction pressures while studying the chemistry of pure systems in the condensed phase.
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