The efforts at controlling molecular dynamics and other quantum phenomena with lasers have a history going back to the early 1960s. This quest has followed a torturous evolution, but recent years have seen dramatic successes beginning to emerge. These laboratory advances utilize shaped ultra-fast laser pulses as a special class of photonic reagents having a fleeting existence, but with the capability of permanently altering molecules and materials in specific ways. Theoretical concepts and modeling are providing the basis for directing and analyzing the experiments. Although the attempts at photonic reagent control of quantum dynamics is a subject with a 40-year history, the field may be viewed as just a few years young given only the recent emergence of successful experiments on physically and chemically interesting systems. It is anticipated that theory and modeling will continue to play leading roles in the further development of this field.
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