Velocity map imaging of the dynamics of bimolecular chemical reactions
The experimental technique of velocity map imaging (VMI) enables measurements to be made of the dynamics of chemical reactions that are providing unprecedented insights about reactive scattering. This perspective article illustrates how VMI, in combination with crossed-molecular beam, dual-beam or photo-initiated (PHOTOLOC) methods, can reveal correlated information on the vibrational quantum states populated in the two products of a reaction, and the angular scattering of products (the differential cross section) formed in specific rotational and vibrational levels. Reactions studied by VMI techniques are being extended to those of polyatomic molecules or radicals, and of molecular ions. Subtle quantum-mechanical effects in bimolecular reactions can provide distinct signatures in the velocity map images, and are exemplified here by non-adiabatic dynamics on coupled potential energy surfaces, and by experimental evidence for scattering resonances.