Elucidating the initial dynamics of electron photodetachment from atoms in liquids using variably-time-delayed resonant multiphoton ionization
We study the photodetachment of electrons from sodium anions in room temperature liquid tetrahydrofuran (THF) using a new type of three-pulse pump-probe spectroscopy. Our experiments use two variably-time-delayed pulses for excitation in what is essentially a resonant 1+1 two-photon ionization: By varying the arrival time of the second excitation pulse, we can directly observe how solvent motions stabilize and trap the excited electron prior to electron detachment. Moreover, by varying the arrival times of the ionization (excitation) and probe pulses, we also can determine the fate of the photoionized electrons and the distance they are ejected from their parent Na atoms. We find that as solvent reorganization proceeds, the second excitation pulse becomes less effective at achieving photoionization, and that the solvent motions that stabilize the excited electron following the first excitation pulse occur over a time of similar to450 fs. We also find that there is no spectroscopic evidence for significant solvent relaxation after detachment of the electron is complete. In combination with the results of previous experiments and molecular dynamics simulations, the data provide new insight into the role of the solvent in solution-phase electron detachment and charge-transfer-to-solvent reactions. (C) 2004 American Institute of Physics.