Watching the acetylene vinylidene intramolecular reaction in real time
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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Watching the acetylene vinylidene intramolecular reaction in real time

  • Author(s): Jiang, YH;
  • Senftleben, A;
  • Rudenko, A;
  • Madjet, ME;
  • Vendrell, O;
  • Kurka, M;
  • Schnorr, K;
  • Foucar, L;
  • Kübel, M;
  • Herrwerth, O;
  • Lezius, M;
  • Kling, MF;
  • Tilborg, J van;
  • Belkacem, A;
  • Ueda, K;
  • Düsterer, S;
  • Treusch, R;
  • Schröter, CD;
  • Santra, R;
  • Ullrich, J;
  • Moshammer, R
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

It is a long-standing dream of scientists to capture the ultra-fast dynamics of molecular or chemical reactions in real time and to make a molecular movie. With free-electron lasers delivering extreme ultraviolet (XUV) light at unprecedented intensities, in combination with pump-probe schemes, it is now possible to visualize structural changes on the femtosecond time scale in photo-excited molecules. In hydrocarbons the absorption of a single photon may trigger the migration of a hydrogen atom within the molecule. Here, such a reaction was filmed in acetylene molecules (C2H2) showing a partial migration of one of the protons along the carbon backbone which is consistent with dynamics calculations on ab initio potential energy surfaces. Our approach opens attractive perspectives and potential applications for a large variety of XUV-induced ultra-fast phenomena in molecules relevant to physics, chemistry, and biology.

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