One of the main goals of chemists is to understand the “alchemy” that leads to the building and breaking of molecules. There are many different ways of approaching this goal. One of these is photochemistry, the cracking of molecules by adding energy in the form of light to break bonds in the molecules. The resulting bond breakage is in most cases limited by statistical thermodynamic laws. With sufficiently brief and intense laser radiation properly tuned to specific resonances, we hope to bypass the statistical laws and break molecules precisely where we want to break them. Intellectually this is a challenging problem; if we succeed, laser selective chemistry may also have application in various areas of pure and applied chemistry and, perhaps, in medicine.
Laser selective chemistry—is it possible?
Ahmed H. Zewail; Laser selective chemistry—is it possible?. Physics Today 1 November 1980; 33 (11): 27–33. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2913821
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