Chemistry

3D Pathfinder

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Science  22 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6126, pp. 1360-1361
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6126.1360-d

As laser technology grows ever more sophisticated, chemists continue to home in on a goal of precisely controlling reactivity through the use of light. Applied photochemistry, of course, is centuries old, and it has long been possible to vary outcomes by populating different excited states via different impinging wavelengths. In the past several decades, however, the capability of fine-tuning phase in ultrashort laser pulses has helped to enable a degree of coherent control of the light-matter interaction. Nonetheless, steering molecules (or even atoms) through a maze of different quantum pathways in real time remains a major challenge, given the complexity of the energy landscape. Li et al. showcase a technique to map out this landscape in particularly fine detail, in the interest of facilitating coherent control. Termed optical three-dimensional (3D) Fourier transform spectroscopy, the method builds on previously developed 2D schemes, effectively resolving all the transition energies, dipole moments, and relaxation rates associated with the system Hamiltonian within the bandwidth of the excitation source. The authors applied the method to a sample of potassium vapor as a proof of principle.

Nat. Commun. 4, 1390 (2013).

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