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Tuesday, 06 March, 2012

Crush hour in the test-tube

Overcrowding spoils the law of mass action

The rate at which two chemical species react with one another is partly determined by the probability that they will collide. The so-called law of mass action explicitly takes account of this fact, stating that the reaction rate is dependent on the product of the concentrations of participating reactants. With the aid of mathematical modeling, LMU Professor Erwin Frey and his PhD student Anton Winkler at the Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics have taken a new look at the validity of the law. They show that it is violated when particle densities become sufficiently high. As Professor Frey explains, "The deviation can be attributed to so-called many-body effects, and its magnitude can be derived from the number of elementary reactions per unit time." (Physical Review Letters, 5.3.2012)

Press information LMU (english)
Presseinformation der LMU (deutsch)
Publication "Validity of the Law of Mass Action in Three-Dimensional Coagulation Processes"