The first step in vision, the cis-trans isomerization of the chromophore in the retinal pigment rhodopsin, is a highly efficient chemical reaction which is initiated by the absorption of a single photon.1 The molecular dynamics of this important photochemical process were recently resolved for the first time using 10 fs blue-green optical pulses.2,3 These measurements revealed that the formation of the primary photoproduct is essentially complete in only 200 fs. The unprecedented speed of this reaction raises a number of questions about the fundamental processes which drive the isomerization.

© 1994 Optical Society of America

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