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Determining the structure of a molecule with laser-induced electron diffraction

Researchers show how laboratory-frame photoelectron spectra can be used directly to determine molecular with atomic precision from laser induced electron diffraction.

PTB Press Release

In a study recently published in Nature Communication, ICFO (Barcelona, Spain) researchers around Jens Biegert, in collaboration with researchers from Kansas State University, Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (MPIK), Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), and Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, report on an alternative and novel approach that retrieves accurate and precise information about the atomic structure without exact knowledge over the laser field. They successfully applied the method to imaging gas-phased molecule Carbonyl Sulfide (OCS), in particular on the bond lengths between the constituent atoms, showing a significant bent and asymmetrically stretched configuration of the ionized OCS+ structure.

Schematic illustration of the molecular structure of ionized Carbonyl Sulfide (OCS+) showing its bent and asymmetrical configuration and the bond lengths between atoms. ©ICFO

For this purpose, a reaction microscope was used that was developed and built at the MPIK in the group of Robert Moshammer from the department of Thomas Pfeifer. Here, this type of pulse spectroscopy, which goes back to Joachim Ullrich (formerly MPIK, since 2012 President of the PTB), has been successfully used for years to investigate time-resolved molecular dynamics in strong laser fields.




Original publication:

Molecular structure retrieval directly from laboratory-frame photoelectron spectra in laser-induced electron diffraction

A. Sanchez, K. Amini, S.-J. Wang, T. Steinle, B. Belsa, J. Danek, A. T. Le, X. Liu, R. Moshammer, T. Pfeifer, M. Richter, J. Ullrich, S. Gräfe, C. D. Lin and J. Biegert
Opens external link in new windowNature Communications 12, 1520 (2021), DOI: doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21855-4