It seems to be no coincidence that tens of thousands of molecules line up to pirouette around a photochemical reaction centre, according to German researchers, given the superficial resemblance of the molecule, 4-(diisopropylamino)benzonitrile (DIABN), to a ballet dancer en pointe. They have shown, for the first time, that the ultrafast intramolecular electronic charge separation that takes place during a photochemical reaction leads to light-induced reorientation in an organic molecular crystal.
Whether or not the same will apply to other molecular crystals remains to be seen. The results appear in Phys Rev Lett and you can read David Bradley’s write-up in the latest issue of the SpectroscopyNOW X-ray ezine. This and related studies could pave the way for investigations of more complex systems including crystalline biological macromolecules.