Colloquium on December 4th, 2006

David M Leitner
The University of Nevada

Molecules through the mesoscope

Vibrational dynamics and energy flow in molecules mediate rates of chemical reactions, as well as thermal transport in large molecules such as proteins. Molecular spectra have long revealed that dynamics of highly vibrationally excited molecules, with energy sufficient for chemical reaction, are qualitatively different than dynamics at low levels of vibrational excitation.
I shall discuss from a theoretical perspective the transition between these regimes, from regular to chaotic, in a quantum mechanical coupled many-oscillator system, such as a molecule, and experimental spectra that support it. I shall also discuss how we use this information to predict rates of chemical reactions, including the rate of a well-studied prototype for the first step in vision.