Report

Soft X-ray-Driven Femtosecond Molecular Dynamics

Science  07 Sep 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5843, pp. 1374-1378
DOI: 10.1126/science.1144920

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Via your Institution

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Abstract

The direct observation of molecular dynamics initiated by x-rays has been hindered to date by the lack of bright femtosecond sources of short-wavelength light. We used soft x-ray beams generated by high-harmonic upconversion of a femtosecond laser to photoionize a nitrogen molecule, creating highly excited molecular cations. A strong infrared pulse was then used to probe the ultrafast electronic and nuclear dynamics as the molecule exploded. We found that substantial fragmentation occurs through an electron-shakeup process, in which a second electron is simultaneously excited during the soft x-ray photoionization process. During fragmentation, the molecular potential seen by the electron changes rapidly from nearly spherically symmetric to a two-center molecular potential. Our approach can capture in real time and with angstrom resolution the influence of ionizing radiation on a range of molecular systems, probing dynamics that are inaccessible with the use of other techniques.

View Full Text