This letter focuses on general aspects of the stereodynamics of chemi-ionization reactions, triggered by collisions of O-2 and N-2 molecules with metastable neon atoms. Basic characteristics of the long-range intermolecular forces involved, some of chemical and others of physical origin, suggest that the weakly bound precursor state, determining the reaction transition state structure and stability, is rather different. Fundamental reaction selectivities are clarified, highlighting differences in the: i) optical potential whose real and imaginary parts must be interdependent; ii) polarizability, quadrupolar moments and orbital representation of the molecules involved, which allow to lay the foundations for future more in-depth investigations.
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