Historical Background

In recent years, the number of discussion forums that gathered physical chemists working on fast kinetic processes in liquids and solids has significantly decreased. Two regular meetings of rich history are no longer organized. The Fast Reactions in Solution (FRIS) Discussion Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry was last celebrated in Burgos (Spain) in 2004. The last Diffusion Assisted Reactions (DAR) workshop took place in Novosibirsk (Russia) in 2006.

FRIS was a discussion forum joining researchers from diverse experimental areas related to the physico-chemical study of the kinetics of chemical reactions. Porter, Eigen, and many other prominent researchers contributed to the success of the FRIS meetings, which were also very fruitful in connecting areas sometimes not well interrelated. The DAR series of workshops was born at the dusk of the XXth century with the main purpose of finding a common ground for competing theories in the field of chemical reactions in solution assisted or influenced by molecular diffusion. It was a very interesting forum also for experimentalists interested in the latest theoretical advances in the field.

As none of the above meetings has now a clear perspective of being continued in the future, we feel there is a gap that needs to be filled to provide a discussion forum not only to those attending FRIS and DAR events in the past, but also to a wider range of research groups working on fast kinetic processes all around the world. Such a new forum should continue the good traditions of the past meetings, but at the same time it should search for a new formula that would better fit the needs of the present time. This view is shared by many active participants and organizers of the past meetings, including Profs. Grampp, Vauthey (FRIS); Lukzen, Burshtein, Doktorov (DAR), and others.

The above idea is also strongly supported by the organizers of the PULS Conferences on Pulse Investigations in Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. These regular meetings, last held in Krakow (Poland) in 2008, brought together scientists working in the world of very fast processes and short-lived intermediates, often studied by the pulse radiolysis or flash photolysis techniques.

In view of the above, we would like to propose a conference named Reaction Kinetics in Condensed Matter: Merging Experiments and Theory, continuing and extending the conference held in Moscow in September 2010. The first part of this name is quite general and encompasses all subjects of FRIS, DAR, or PULS meetings. And it is the second part of the proposed name that best characterizes the main idea we would like to realize in organizing this event - to promote interactions between experimentalists and theoreticians. We have some new concepts for this meeting. To give one example, we propose to include in each conference session two plenary lectures by prominent scientists, one experimentalist and one theoretician, who would give a general view of their subjects not restricted to their own results. This and other ideas that would allow us to achieve an attractive formula of the new conference are described in more detail later in this document.

Some of the concepts we present here result from discussions at the meeting that took place in Moscow already under the name Reaction Kinetics in Condensed Matter. It gathered around 60 participants from all around the globe including well recognized scientists: Profs. H.-X. Zhou, John R. Miller, M. Tachiya, E. Vauthey, S. Lee and many others. In the next sections of this project, we present a more detailed description of the scope, format, location, and dates of the proposed conference. We would like to stress that this is still an open project, and all suggestions regarding its contents will be warmly welcome.

It would be most desirable if other research groups could also join this project in the future, so that the new conference would become a regular event organized by different people in different parts of the world.

Scope, aim and audience

The scope of RKCM is wide and covers all fields related to the kinetics of physicochemical processes in condensed media. These include not only elementary reactions in liquid solutions, but also processes taking place in biological media, polymers and other amorphous solids, super-critical fluids, etc. All these areas are extremely important in today's research and development and, what is interesting, often share common problems with the studies carried out in simple liquid environments.

The main objective of RKCM is, as already mentioned, to fill the gap left by the disappearance of FRIS and DAR, what means to build a forum where the very alive fields related to chemical reactions kinetics can be discussed. At the same time, our intention is to build two bridges. First, there is a need to connect theory and experiment in this field; in the current literature it is often encountered that experimental works do not make use of the theories potentially able to explain them, and vice versa, that theory seems sometimes not concerned about experimental problems not so far treated by it. This leads to a situation where resources are not utilized up to their full potential and as a result fundamental discoveries are missed. A case in the point is cell biology. Novel experimental techniques have enabled rather detailed study of chemical reactions in the living cell. However, on the modelling side, the experiments are often described assuming perfect mixing of reactants. Such assumption is valid in many cases. However, it is likely that such a situation in the field will likely prevent discovery of fundamental biological principles that govern cell organization, geometric features, and ultimately its function. The second bridge is meant to connect our expertise and knowledge base towards the areas or problems that we are not aware of and that need our attention. Certainly, the cell biology case discussed above is an obvious example. Another case of technological interest is related to the development of new photovoltaic devices: many of the physical processes in the amorphous solids have a clear resemblance to those already studied theoretically and experimentally in liquid and solid solution. Despite that, most of the models utilized in the field have been long ago shown to be inappropriate because they do not couple conveniently charge separation and recombination. Further examples can be found in the ultrafast study of chemical reactions where interesting diffusional effects linked to the molecular shapes and their subtle interactions may have important consequences in the determination of the rates at which the reactions proceed; or in the study of single molecules subject of bimolecular reactions. These are few of the many fields for which such a meeting can be beneficial.

Hence the aim is to provide a meeting to those excelling in the areas of chemical kinetics in condensed media, understood in the wide sense, from both points of view in order to have the opportunity to exchange ideas mutually enriching. Furthermore, we also hope to encourage visionary discussions about future of the field and try to identify problems where the reaction kinetics toolbox is necessary for solving them. Because of the wide scope of the conference, the audience could in principle be ample. However, we are targeting only those interested in building up the above mentioned bridges. Our intention is to seed the community with the approaches discussed in our conferences in order to recover a physical point of view of chemical reactions. We intend to host 50% of theoreticians and 50% of experimentalists of international notoriety, up to complete a total of 100 to 150 participants.

Being intended as a discussion forum to exchange knowledge on current problems around diffusion assisted or other kinetic processes in condensed media, the number of participants can not be large. This is also limited by the fact that in order to improve the exchange of ideas and experiences it is better not to have parallel sessions. Therefore, about 100 to 150 participants are expected to participate in the next RKCM.