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Absolute excited state molecular geometries revealed by resonance Raman signals


Ultrafast reactions activated by light absorption are governed by multidimensional excited-state (ES) potential energy surfaces (PESs), which describe how the molecular potential varies with the nuclear coordinates. ES PESs ad-hoc displaced with respect to the ground state can drive subtle structural rearrangements, accompanying molecular biological activity and regulating physical/chemical properties. Such displacements are encoded in the Franck-Condon overlap integrals, which in turn determine the resonant Raman response. Conventional spectroscopic approaches only access their absolute value, and hence cannot determine the sense of ES displacements. Here, we introduce a two-color broadband impulsive Raman experimental scheme, to directly measure complex Raman excitation profiles along desired normal modes. The key to achieve this task is in the signal linear dependence on the Frank-Condon overlaps, brought about by non-degenerate resonant probe and off-resonant pump pulses, which ultimately enables time-domain sensitivity to the phase of the stimulated vibrational coherences. Our results provide the tool to determine the magnitude and the sensed direction of ES displacements, unambiguously relating them to the ground state eigenvectors reference frame.

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