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Some of the important underlying scientific aspects of photochemical and photothermal processes are reviewed. The discussion concentrates on those areas of laser chemistry which offer a considerable potential for commercial applicaion and examples are selected which illustrate this. Thus this paper is not a comprehensive review of current research in laser chemistry. Specific subjects treated include laser isotope separation, purification, chemical synthesis, laser pyrolysis, laser production of novel materials, laser-initiated chain reactions, laser control of electronic effects, and laser chemistry at surfaces.