Mechanisms of bimolecular chemical reactions in solution are amenable to study on picosecond timescales, both by transient absorption spectroscopy and by computer simulation. The dynamics of exothermic reactions of CN radicals and of Cl and F atoms with organic solutes in commonly used solvents are contrasted with the corresponding dynamics in the gas phase. Many characteristics of the gas-phase reaction dynamics persist in solution, such as efficient energy release to specific vibrational modes of the products. However, additional complexities associated with the presence of the solvent are open to investigation. These features of liquid-phase reactions include the role of solvent-solute complexes, solvent caging, coupling of the product motions to the solvent bath, thermalization of internally excited reaction products, incipient hydrogen bond formation, and involvement of charge-separated states that arise from proton transfer.


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