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heavy atom effect The enhancement of the rate of a spin-forbidden process by the presence of an atom of high atomic number, which is either part of, or external to, the excited molecular entity. Mechanistically, it responds to a spin-orbit coupling enhancement produced by a heavy atom. Source: PAC, 1996, 68, 2223 (Glossary of terms used in photochemistry (IUPAC Recommendations 1996)) on page 2245.
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By being more efficient, slower emitting, and uniquely sensitive they are expanding the applicability of organic materials. In order, though, for this trend to include all organic materials the critical limitation of an organometallic structure must be overcome. At the time of this publishing, organometallics alone preform well enough for applicational use. Here is presented the Directed Heavy Atom Effect.