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J Phys Chem A. 2008 Jul 31;112(30):6811-22. doi: 10.1021/jp8013404. Epub 2008 Jul 1.

Multiphoton control of the 1,3-cyclohexadiene ring-opening reaction in the presence of competing solvent reactions.

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  • 1FOCUS Center, University of Michigan, 450 Church Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1040, USA.


Although physical chemistry has often concentrated on the observation and understanding of chemical systems, the defining characteristic of chemistry remains the direction and control of chemical reactivity. Optical control of molecular dynamics, and thus of chemical reactivity provides a path to use photon energy as a smart reagent in a chemical system. In this paper, we discuss recent research in this field in the context of our studies of the multiphoton optical control of the photo-initiated ring-opening reaction of 1,3-cyclohexadiene (CHD) to form 1,3,5- cis-hexatriene (Z-HT). Closed-loop feedback and learning algorithms are able to identify pulses that increase the desired target state by as much as a factor of two. Mechanisms for control are discussed through the influence of the intensity dependence, the nonlinear power spectrum, and the projection of the pulses onto low orders of polynomial phase. Control measurements in neat solvents demonstrate that competing solvent fragmentation reactions must also be considered. In particular, multiphoton excitation of cyclohexane alone is capable of producing hexatriene. Statistical analyses of data sets obtained in learning algorithm searches in neat cyclohexane and for CHD in hexane and cyclohexane highlight the importance of linear and quadratic chirp, while demonstrating that the control features are not so easily defined. Higher order phase components are also important. On the basis of these results the involvement of low-frequency ground-state vibrational modes is proposed. When the population is transferred to the excited state, momentum along the torsional coordinate may keep the wave packet localized as it moves toward the conical intersections controlling the yield of Z-HT.

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