Laser-Induced Electron Tunneling and Diffraction

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Science  13 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5882, pp. 1478-1482
DOI: 10.1126/science.1157980

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Molecular structure is usually determined by measuring the diffraction pattern the molecule impresses on x-rays or electrons. We used a laser field to extract electrons from the molecule itself, accelerate them, and in some cases force them to recollide with and diffract from the parent ion, all within a fraction of a laser period. Here, we show that the momentum distribution of the extracted electron carries the fingerprint of the highest occupied molecular orbital, whereas the elastically scattered electrons reveal the position of the nuclear components of the molecule. Thus, in one comprehensive technology, the photoelectrons give detailed information about the electronic orbital and the position of the nuclei.

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