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Imaging charge transfer in iodomethane upon x-ray photoabsorption

Science  18 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6194, pp. 288-291
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253607

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Tightly tracking charge migration

Electron transfer dynamics underlie many chemical and biochemical reactions. Erk et al. examined the charge migration between individual carbon and iodine atoms during dissociation of iodomethane (ICH3) molecules (see the Perspective by Pratt). After initiating scission of the C-I bond with a relatively low-energy laser pulse, they introduced a higher-energy x-ray pulse to instigate ionization and charge migration. Delaying the arrival time of the x-ray pulse effectively varied the separation distance being probed as the fragments steadily drifted apart. The experimental approach should also prove useful for future studies of charge transfer dynamics in different molecular or solid-state systems.

Science, this issue p. 288; see also p. 267

Abstract

Studies of charge transfer are often hampered by difficulties in determining the charge localization at a given time. Here, we used ultrashort x-ray free-electron laser pulses to image charge rearrangement dynamics within gas-phase iodomethane molecules during dissociation induced by a synchronized near-infrared (NIR) laser pulse. Inner-shell photoionization creates positive charge, which is initially localized on the iodine atom. We map the electron transfer between the methyl and iodine fragments as a function of their interatomic separation set by the NIR–x-ray delay. We observe signatures of electron transfer for distances up to 20 angstroms and show that a realistic estimate of its effective spatial range can be obtained from a classical over-the-barrier model. The presented technique is applicable for spatiotemporal imaging of charge transfer dynamics in a wide range of molecular systems.

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