The classical mechanics of a system of two nonlinearly coupled oscillators driven by an oscillating electric field is studied. The presence of quasiperiodic and chaotic motion in the unforced system is shown to influence the nature of energy absorption. Two essentially different types of behavior are observed. In the first, energy is exchanged in a multiply periodic manner between the system and the forcing field. In the second regime, the energy exchange is erratic and a statistical analysis of a family of trajectories shows the role of the chaotic motion in the unforced system in the dissociation process. A theory for rate of photodissociation is presented and results are compared with those obtained from an ensemble of exact classical trajectories.
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