In preceding Chapters, we have looked at a wide range of applications in which the laser is used as a probe for systems of chemical interest. Although the application of laser spectroscopic techniques in particular may result in short-lived changes in molecular energy level populations, the laser does not generally induce any chemical change in the sample; in that sense it is used as a static, rather than a dynamic tool. Quite distinct from this is the field of applications in which laser excitation is used specifically to promote chemical reaction. Although this is a less well-developed area, it is one which is growing at a very rapid rate, and includes perhaps some of the most exciting research topics in the whole field of lasers in chemistry, as we shall see. There are, for example, indications that laser-induced chemical synthesis may ultimately prove the best and most economically sound method of producing some of the more expensive pharmaceutical compounds. To introduce the subject, we begin with a general overview of the major principles appertaining to laser-induced chemistry.
KeywordsVibrational Level Polyatomic Molecule Isotope Separation Bimolecular Reaction Carbon Dioxide Laser
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