Research ArticleULTRAFAST MOLECULAR PHYSICS

Direct observation of an attosecond electron wave packet in a nitrogen molecule

Science Advances  25 Sep 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 8, e1500356
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500356

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Abstract

Capturing electron motion in a molecule is the basis of understanding or steering chemical reactions. Nonlinear Fourier transform spectroscopy using an attosecond-pump/attosecond-probe technique is used to observe an attosecond electron wave packet in a nitrogen molecule in real time. The 500-as electronic motion between two bound electronic states in a nitrogen molecule is captured by measuring the fragment ions with the same kinetic energy generated in sequential two-photon dissociative ionization processes. The temporal evolution of electronic coherence originating from various electronic states is visualized via the fragment ions appearing after irradiation of the probe pulse. This observation of an attosecond molecular electron wave packet is a critical step in understanding coupled nuclear and electron motion in polyatomic and biological molecules to explore attochemistry.

Keywords
  • Physics
  • Ultrafast Optics
  • attosecond
  • electron dynamics

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