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Laser Pulses 'Freeze' Energy Flow

Photonics Spectra
Feb 1999
Scientists at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign may have discovered a way to control chemical reactions using the pulse of a laser, an accomplishment that has eluded researchers for years.
The group developed a technique called static coherent control that uses quantum interference to manipulate reactions within polyatomic molecules. The goal is to use a laser pulse to control chemical reactivity by "freezing" the intramolecular energy redistribution.
In the past, researchers have worked with an ultrafast laser pulse to place energy in a particular bond to achieve specific reactions. The problem was that many believed energy redistribution occurred too quickly for this method to be effective.
Recent experiments and theories hint that this energy redistribution actually takes place at a slower rate than that predicted, and they indicate that intramolecular energy flow in several large organic molecules follows a much slower power-law decay.


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