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Published September 2, 1988 | public
Journal Article

Femtosecond Clocking of the Chemical Bond


When a chemical bond is broken in a direct dissociation reaction, the process is so rapid that it has generally been considered instantaneous and thus unmeasurable. However, the bond does persist for times on the order of 10^(-13) seconds after the photon has been absorbed. Femtosecond (10^(-15) second) laser techniques can be used to directly clock this process, which describes the dynamics of the chemical bond. The time required to break the chemical bond in an elementary reaction has been measured and the characteristic repulsion length for the potential governing fragment separation has been obtained.

Additional Information

© 1998 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received 6 June 1988; accepted 6 July 1988. We thank R. Zare, R. Dixon, J. Simons, and K. Wilson for very enlightening discussions. Supported by the AFOSR grant 87-0071. A.H.Z. is a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

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August 19, 2023
October 19, 2023