For nearly 75 years, transition-state theory has guided chemists in how they view the way chemical reactions proceed. Recent research by Emory University chemists is challenging the long-held theory, showing that in some cases chemical reactions can proceed via a path that completely bypasses the "transition state."
"Our understanding of chemical reactions rests on the notion of the transition state. If we think of reactions as occurring on an energy landscape, the transition state is the mountain pass separating the reactants, and the resulting products from the reaction are valleys," says Joel Bowman, an Emory theoretical chemist and chairman of the chemistry department.
According to transition state theory, reactions proceed over this mountain pass, Bowman says, "but our results for a well-studied chemical reaction show that the reaction occurs during the transition state -- and also through a surprising second path that is not near this transition state region."
Beverly Cox Clark | EurekAlert!
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