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Molecular Reaction Dynamics. By Raphael D. Levine

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all 600 items of his materia medica. This
handsome piece of furniture is still on
display in Cambridge today.
Although space restrictions preclude
further discussion of individual 1702
Chairholders, we would mention in passing the astonishing disparity in the qualifications of certain of the earlier incumbents, compared to what is expected
nowadays. For example, the fifth Chairholder, Richard Watson (1764–1771),
admitted upon appointment that he
“knew nothing at all of chemistry, had
never read a syllable on the subject,
nor seen a single experiment in it”.
Only after studying chemistry as much
as his “other avocations would permit”
was he able—some 15 months later—to
deliver his first course of lectures. How
times have changed! The four most
recent 1702 professors, in stark contrast,
were outstanding chemists well before
they took up tenure. Alexander Todd
(1944–1971), Ralph Raphael (1972–
1988), Alan Battersby (1988–1992), and
Steven Lay (1992–the present) had
established reputations, which they
built upon while Chairholders. In recognition for their services to chemistry, all
went on to become Fellows of the Royal
Society, Todd even being elected as
President of the Royal Society. For his
work on nucleoside and nucleotide
structures, Lord Todd was also awarded
the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Cambridge has a long chemical tradition, of which it can be justifiably
proud, and the story of the 1702 Chair
constitutes a significant part of that tradition. The story that is presented here
for the first time is authoritative, readable, and engaging. Every serious library
of chemistry should possess a copy of
this work, and everyone interested in
the history of science will be captivated
by reading it.
Dennis H. Rouvray
Department of Chemistry
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia (USA)
Molecular Reaction Dynamics
By Raphael D.
Levine. Cambridge
University Press,
Cambridge 2005.
554 pp., hardcover
£ 45.00.—ISBN
In this book, Raphael D. Levine presents a completely rewritten version of
the classical text by Levine and Bernstein that was published in 1974. The
book covers a wide range of topics in
molecular reaction dynamics, including
not only the fundamental areas of
molecular collisions, reaction rates,
potential energy functions, molecular
energy transfer, and basic calculation
methods, but also some brand new
topics: real-time femtosecond photochemistry, quantum control of chemical
reactions, stereodynamics, and chemical
reactions in condensed phases and at
The first four chapters describe the
basic principles of molecular dynamics:
chemical reaction dynamics, an introduction to reactive molecular collisions,
and an introduction to formal scattering
theory. These chapters introduce the
basic terminology, and describe the classical phenomena that are observed,
accompanied by theoretical explanations at a qualitative level.
Chapters 5 and 6 give an introduction to the main calculation methods of
molecular dynamics, in which there
have recently been important developments. The methods described include
the use of potential energy functions,
the classical trajectory approach,
Monte Carlo simulation methods, transition-state theory, RRKM theory, flux
contour maps, phase-space theory, and
others. The explanations are very clear
and show the authorAs outstanding pedagogical skill. The clear explanation of
complicated subjects, with only a minimum of mathematical details, is a characteristic that appears throughout the
Chapter 7 describes the use of photochemistry as a new way of preparing
- 2005 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
molecular species in defined quantum
states and controlling chemical reactions. The author discusses different
approaches to understanding molecular
photodissociation, both within and
beyond the Born–Oppenheimer approximation, and illustrates them with an
impressive number of up-to-date applications, including photoexcitation of
diatomic molecules, photodissociation
dynamics, mode-selective photochemistry, bimolecular spectroscopy, and quantum control experiments.
Chapter 8 describes real-time (femtosecond) photochemistry, which has
recently found a huge number of important applications, as it provides a deep
insight into the transition-state region
of a chemical reaction, and allows control of the making and breaking of
chemical bonds. This rather short chapter qualitatively illustrates several
important observed effects: wave packets, bond breaking, coherence, and
chemical transformations caused by
ultrashort laser pulses.
Chapter 9
energy transfer, including the electronic
and vibrational degrees of freedom of
the molecules. This area has found several important applications, such as
chemical lasers and the investigation of
the nonadiabatic interactions in molecules that are described in the text.
Chapter 10 describes the stereodynamics of molecular reactions, which
is another brand new direction of molecular dynamics, as it gives direct access to
the elementary steps of a chemical reaction. The author describes several ways
of preparing oriented molecules, using
an electric field or laser radiation, and
shows many examples in which the
resulting anisotropy of the reaction
products is analyzed.
Chapters 11 and 12 describe molecular dynamics in condensed phases and in
molecular reactions at the interface
between a gas and the condensed
phase. Recent progress in this field has
important implications for the chemical
industry, for nanotechnology, and for
biology. The author explains in detail
the key features of solvent interactions,
solvation phenomena, and the cage
effect. Several examples show advances
in the understanding of chemical reactivity in solutions and on surfaces.
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 4663 – 4665
To summarize, the book offers a very
good text covering the important subject
of modern molecular reaction dynamics
for undergraduate and graduate students. The writing is of a high pedagogical standard, and the book can serve as
an excellent introduction to several
important fields of modern science,
including the control of chemical reactions, combustion, astrophysics, materi-
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 4663 – 4665
als science, nanophysics, nanochemistry,
and biophysics. I will recommend it for
my students, both in St. Petersburg,
Russia and in Braunschweig, where I
am involved in the teaching of chemistry.
Universit:t Braunschweig (Germany)
Ioffe Institute
Russian Academy of Sciences
St. Petersburg (Russia)
Oleg S. Vasyutinskii
Institut f7r Physikalische und
Theoretische Chemie
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200585288
- 2005 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
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molecular, reaction, raphael, dynamics, levin
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