Reactions of Atomic Hydrogen with Isotopes of Nitric Oxide in Solid Parahydrogen

Hurley, Manford
Cold chemistry is becoming a hot area of research as a way to test fundamental principles about chemical reactions governed by quantum mechanics. Typically chemists think of molecules with ball and stick models, but at extremely low temperatures molecules can start to behave like waves. Molecules at very low temperatures (2-4 K) do not have much energy with which to react. Classically, at these low temperatures, only reactions with no barrier to reaction should take place. However, recent experiments in the Anderson group have shown that the reaction of hydrogen atoms (H) with nitric oxide (NO) can produce both HNO and NOH. This is surprising because the reaction to form HNO is barrierless, whereas the reaction that forms NOH has a significant barrier. The fact that NOH is produced in these low temperature reactions is due to quantum mechanical effects or the H atoms behaving as matter waves. I am helping analyze the Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectra that are used to follow the kinetics (how fast reactions occur) of these reactions. I am also analyzing the FTIR spectra of different isotopes of nitric oxide (14NO and 15NO) to better characterize the rotational dynamics of the NO reagent. In the Born-Oppenheimer approximation, both of these isotopes of NO should react similarly at low temperature and I am helping to analyze the FTIR spectra to determine if this is true.
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