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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Oct 29;110(44):17703-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1213080110. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Theory of mass-independent fractionation of isotopes, phase space accessibility, and a role of isotopic symmetry.

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Noyes Laboratory of Chemical Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125.

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  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Oct 29;110(44):18023.


Key experimental and theoretical features of mass-independent fractionation (MIF) of isotopes, also known as the η-effect, are summarized, including its difference from the exit channel zero-point energy difference effect. The latter exactly cancels in the MIF. One key experimental result is that the MIF for O3 formation is a low-pressure phenomenon and, moreover, that it decreases with increasing pressure of third bodies at pressures far below the "Lindemann fall-off" pressures for three-body recombination of O and O2. A possible origin of the MIF is discussed in terms of a role for isotopologue symmetry in intramolecular energy sharing. An explanation is suggested for the large difference in the fall-off pressure for recombination and the pressure for a large decrease in MIF, in terms of a difference between deactivating collisions and what we term here "symmetry-changing collisions". It is noted that the theory of the MIF involves four recombination rate constants and an equilibrium constant, for each trace isotope, seven rate constants in all and two equilibrium constants. A conceptual shortcut is noted. Experimental and computational information that may provide added insight into the MIF mechanism and tests is described.


RRKM; anomalous pressure effect; chaperon; ergodic; quasi-periodic

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