Transition-state spectroscopy using ultrashort laser pulses

Takayoshi Kobayashi*, Atsushi Yabushita

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


To gain a complete understanding of a chemical reaction, it is necessary to determine the structural changes that occur to the reacting molecules during the reaction. Chemists have long dreamed of being able to determine the molecular structure changes that occur during a chemical reaction, including the structures of transition states (TSs). The use of ultrafast spectroscopy to gain a detailed knowledge of chemical reactions (including their TSs) promises to be a revolutionary way to increase reaction efficiencies and enhance the reaction products, which is difficult to do using conventional methods that are based on trial and error. To confirm the molecular structures of TSs predicted by theoretical analysis, chemists have long desired to directly observe the TSs of chemical reactions. Direct observations have been realized by ultrafast spectroscopy using ultrashort laser pulses. Our group has been able to stably generate visible to near-infrared sub-5-fs laser pulses using a noncollinear optical parametric amplifier (NOPA). We used these sub-5-fs pulses to study reaction processes (including their TSs) by detecting structural changes. We determine reaction mechanisms by observing the TSs in a chemical reaction and by performing density-functional theory calculations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-116
Number of pages18
JournalChemical Record
Issue number2
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2011


  • lasers
  • reaction dynamics
  • transition states
  • ultrafast spectroscopy


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