China's top 10 scientific advances in 2020 | Updated: 2021-03-02 14:36
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10. Quantum interference in chemical reactions

Quantum interference, or QI, effects play a fundamental role in the dynamics of chemical reactions, but is usually difficult to observe directly.

The scientists from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences detected unusual QI oscillations in the differential cross section measured in the recoil scattering direction of the prototypical elementary reaction H + HD → H2 + D.

Topological analysis showed that this pattern originates from the QI between a direct abstraction and previously unknown rebounding insertion pathways, which are affected by the geometric phase at energies far below the conical intersection. The QI observed between these two distinctive pathways in the three-atom system is a clear example of the quantum nature of chemical reactivity.

The research was published in the journal Science.

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