20-year-old secret of oxygen and ozone has been discovered

Roman Kochanov, assistant professor of the faculty of Physics, and professor Vladimir Tuterev, research advisor of TSU QUAMER laboratory together with scientists of CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) France made a breakthrough in understanding quantum transmutation mechanics of light and heavy oxygen isotopes in a process of ozone molecule composition under high energies.

For more than 20 years physicists from all over the world have been trying to find the explanation for the experimental changes distinguishing from theoretical models of ozone molecule composition. The results of a new research help to make better predictions for processes of ozone formation that, depending on a height of atmospheric layers, can either protect the Earth’s biosphere or make ecological problems.

 The article with research results was published in The Journal Physical Chemistry Letters (IF=9.5). CNRS added this publication to the list of valuable scientific achievements.

- For the first time we could explain the reaction speeds of isotopic exchange in accordance with temperature. - comments one of the authors, Roman Kochanov. ‘The exchange reactions of oxygen isotopes 16O and 18O mean a lot in ozone formation but all theoretical approaches varied from experiments by temperature or magnitude. This result has a fundamental meaning in understanding the process of heavy isotope enrichment of ozone in stratosphere.

The result of the experiment is based on accurate quantal calculation of molecule dynamics when atoms pass through metastable resonant states of ozone with its following dissolution. The problem was solved due to the new potential energy surface created by Russian authors using original researches of molecular electronic structure.

The potential energy surface of ozone previously thought being irregular (having a ‘reef structure’) on a trajectory of dissolution (dissociation) of a molecule. Recent calculations suggested the absence of a barrier. It helped to get better alignment for reaction speeds with experiment.

The measures of atmosphere ozone distribution and its long-term changes are critical for understanding the connection between ozone variability and climate changes. This gas absorbs infrared and microwave radiation intensively. Among potential greenhouse gases it takes the third place. The tropospheric ozone in some geographic areas was revealed to have higher radiation capability of greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide.

Ozone is an important part of Earth atmosphere and plays a huge role in atmospheric physics. Despite its low concentration it is important in processes affecting atmosphere chemical composition, air quality and climate. In troposphere – the closest atmosphere layer – ozone is a high-toxic component part of smog that ruins lung tissue and cardiovascular system. On the other hand, ozone is the only defense of Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystems from UV radiation in stratosphere.


Roman Kochanov, assistant professor of the faculty of Physics, now – visiting scientist at Center for Astrophysics, University of Harvard, USA.

Vladimir Tuterev, research advisor of TSU QUAMER laboratory, professor at University of Reims (France), head of program committee for international conference OZONE, project manager of CNRS project “Ozone dissociation: quantal and chemical calculations and laser spectrum analysis”.

Gregoire Guillon, assistant professor of Carnot interdisciplinary laboratory, University of Bourgogne, France.

Pascal Honvault, professor of Carnot interdisciplinary laboratory, University of Bourgogne, France.