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Femtosecond time-resolved XUV + UV photoelectron imaging of pure helium nanodroplets.

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Liquid helium nanodroplets, consisting of on average 2 × 10(6) atoms, are examined using femtosecond time-resolved photoelectron imaging. The droplets are excited by an extreme ultraviolet light pulse centered at 23.7 eV photon energy, leading to states within a band that is associated with the 1s3p and 1s4p Rydberg levels of free helium atoms. The initially excited states and subsequent relaxation dynamics are probed by photoionizing transient species with a 3.2 eV pulse and using velocity map imaging to measure time-dependent photoelectron kinetic energy distributions. Significant differences are seen compared to previous studies with a lower energy (1.6 eV) probe pulse. Three distinct time-dependent signals are analyzed by global fitting. A broad intense signal, centered at an electron kinetic energy (eKE) of 2.3 eV, grows in faster than the experimental time resolution and decays in ~100 fs. This feature is attributed to the initially excited droplet state. A second broad transient feature, with eKE ranging from 0.5 to 4 eV, appears at a rate similar to the decay of the initially excited state and is attributed to rapid atomic reconfiguration resulting in Franck-Condon overlap with a broader range of cation geometries, possibly involving formation of a Rydberg-excited (He(n))* core within the droplet. An additional relaxation pathway leads to another short-lived feature with vertical binding energies ≳2.4 eV, which is identified as a transient population within the lower-lying 1s2p Rydberg band. Ionization at 3.2 eV shows an enhanced contribution from electronically excited droplet states compared to ejected Rydberg atoms, which dominate at 1.6 eV. This is possibly the result of increased photoelectron generation from the bulk of the droplet by the more energetic probe photons.

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