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Transition States

In any chemical reaction, there is an energetic barrier that the reactants must cross over as bonds are broken and re-made to become the product. The reaction will follow the lowest energy path between reactants and products, just like a hiker will take the lowest route when crossing a pass between two mountains.

saddle point

The transition state (TS) is the highest energy point on the lowest energy path between the reactants and the products. It occurs at the top of the energetic barrier. Enzymes work by lowering the energetic barrier to reactions - they bind to and stabilize the TS.

The symbol for the TS is a double dagger (): a TS is about as stable as two daggers balanced point-to-point. A TS exists for less than a single bond vibration (ca. 100 fs).

TS profile

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