About this Research Topic
Nuclear degrees of freedom are the centerpiece of nearly all chemical dynamics. This association is obvious in the context of chemical reactions where nuclei are exchanged, rearranged, or lost entirely. However, ground state chemical reactions are only one of numerous chemical processes where molecular vibrations are crucial, and there remain important questions and challenges to measuring, simulating, and understanding the interplay of electronic and nuclear degrees-of freedom that control chemical dynamics in cases ranging from energy and charge transfer, to isomerization.
Biophysical studies of light-activated proteins have provided suggestive examples of function driven molecular design through selectively excited vibrational modes. Exemplar cases include ultrafast photoisomerization of a single pigment within rhodopsin and phytochrome―ubiquitous photoreceptors in a number of biological contexts. More recently, the role of vibrations in facilitating electronic dynamics within coupled multichromophoric systems has become a topic of considerable interest, prompted by discoveries of vibronic interactions among pigments within photosynthetic light-harvesting proteins. In those cases, vibrational modes with frequencies matching energy differences between the excited-states of coupled chromophores were found to promote energy and/or charge transfer in a rapid, robust, and highly directional fashion, across energy gaps sometimes many times larger than kT. Understanding the structure-vibration-function relationship in molecular systems designed by Nature provides us the opportunity to exploit those design principles in the development of highly efficient artificial molecular devices.
This Research Topic seeks to highlight new discoveries and insights regarding the active role of vibrations in intramolecular and intermolecular chemical dynamics at large, in both the gas and condensed phases. We therefore invite experimental and theoretical contributions from the following general areas:
• Exploring the structure-vibration-function relationship and conical intersection dynamics in molecules and/or molecular clusters in the gas phase
• Vibrationally-mediated photoisomerization and energy/charge transfer in biological systems such as photosynthetic light-harvesting proteins
• Bio-inspired artificial systems utilizing vibrational “steering” of chemical dynamics
• Design and function of synthetic molecular motors
• Method developments in detection and characterization of vibronic interactions and vibrationally-driven chemical dynamics
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