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Digging into surface reactions.

Two scientists at Rockefeller University in New York City have stumbled upon a new method for detecting chemical reactions that take place at the surface of solids. While studying a thin solid film of an organic dye, the researchers inadvertently exposed the dye to light in the presence of air. When they repeated a mass spectrometric analysis of he film, they found clear evidence that a chemical transformation had occurred.

The key step involves using an essentially nondestructive form of mass spectrometry based on the radioactive isotope californium-252. Fission fragments from the isotope's disintegration bombard the film, intensely heating the surface and causing molecules to ionize and vaporize.

The researchers, Brian T. Chait and Frank H. Field, have now shown that the technique works for a variety of surface reactions. It's also very sensitive, they report in the Nov. 13 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY.
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Title Annotation:new method for detecting chemical reactions at the surface of solids
Publication:Science News
Date:Dec 14, 1985
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