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Laser pulses control single electrons in complex molecules
Date:9/1/2009

hell of the complex molecule carbon monoxide (CO) utilizing the electric field waveform of laser pulses. Carbon monoxide has 14 electrons. With increasing number of electrons in the molecule the control over single electrons becomes difficult as their states lie energetically very close to each other.

In their experiments the scientists used visible (740 nm) laser pulses with 4 femtoseconds duration. The control was experimentally determined via an asymmetric distribution of C+ and of O+ fragments after the breaking of the molecular bond. The measurement of C+ and O+ fragments implies a dynamic charge shift along the molecular axis in one or the other direction, controlled via the laser pulse.

The femtosecond laser pulses initially detached an electron from a CO molecule. Subsequently the electron was driven by the laser field away from and back to the ion, where it transferred its energy in a collision. The whole process took only ca. 1.7 femtoseconds. "The collision produces an electronic wave packet which induces a directional movement of electrons along the molecular axis," says Regina de Vivie-Riedle. "The excitation and subsequent interaction with the remainder of the intense laser pulse leads to a coupling of electron and nuclear motion and gives a contribution to the observed asymmetry," explains Matthias Kling.

The scientists could also image the structure and form of the outer two electron orbitals of carbon monoxide via the ionization process. The extremely short femtosecond laser pulses allowed the scientists to explore this process in the outermost orbitals. They found the ionization of the molecules to take place with a distinct angular dependence with respect to the laser polarization direction. This observation was found to be in good agreement with theoretical calculations and also gave a contribution to the observed asymmetry. The scientists could show that the strength of this asymmetry strongly depends on the duration of t
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Contact: Prof. Dr. Regina de Vivie-Riedle
regina.de_vivie@cup.uni-muenchen.de
49-892-180-77533
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

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