PerspectivePhysics

To catch and smash charge on the hop

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Science  13 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6262, pp. 740-741
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad3982

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Summary

Charge transfer plays a central role in photosynthetic and photocatalytic reactions and has thus been studied extensively in a wide range of systems. Generally, charge transfer is considered to be driven by the nuclear dynamics; nuclear motion in the system couples with electron motion and causes charge transfer. Two decades ago, ultrafast charge transfer was reported in isolated peptide cations (1); a theoretical demonstration that charge can migrate from one side to the other in polyatomic molecules without nuclear motion, due solely to electron correlations, soon followed (2). To differentiate electron correlation-driven processes from nuclear dynamics-driven ones, the term charge migration was introduced. Electron correlation-driven charge migration is faster than nuclear motion and occurs within femtoseconds, and is one of the most important subjects in attosecond science (3). The first report offering evidence of charge migration appeared in 2014 (4). On page 790 of this issue, Kraus et al. (5) describe the most advanced approach to probe attosecond charge migration and how to control it.