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Annu Rev Phys Chem. 2005;56:337-67.

Ultrafast chemistry: using time-resolved vibrational spectroscopy for interrogation of structural dynamics.

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  • 1Max Born Institut für Nichtlineare Optik und Kurzzeitspektroskopie, D-12489 Berlin, Germany.


Time-resolved infrared (IR) and Raman spectroscopy elucidates molecular structure evolution during ultrafast chemical reactions. Following vibrational marker modes in real time provides direct insight into the structural dynamics, as is evidenced in studies on intramolecular hydrogen transfer, bimolecular proton transfer, electron transfer, hydrogen bonding during solvation dynamics, bond fission in organometallic compounds and heme proteins, cis-trans isomerization in retinal proteins, and transformations in photochromic switch pairs. Femtosecond IR spectroscopy monitors the site-specific interactions in hydrogen bonds. Conversion between excited electronic states can be followed for intramolecular electron transfer by inspection of the fingerprint IR- or Raman-active vibrations in conjunction with quantum chemical calculations. Excess internal vibrational energy, generated either by optical excitation or by internal conversion from the electronic excited state to the ground state, is observable through transient frequency shifts of IR-active vibrations and through nonequilibrium populations as deduced by Raman resonances.

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