To assess the relative reactivity of the spin-orbit excited state of atomic Cl with molecular hydrogen, we have measured differential cross sections using an atomic Cl beam with a known concentration of the ground and excited spin-orbit states. These are compared with the first determination of the cross sections from quantum mechanical scattering calculations on a set of coupled ab initio potential energy surfaces. The comparison suggests that these surfaces may underestimate the degree of rotational excitation of the HCl products and that the excited spin-orbit state plays a minor role in the reaction.
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