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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ultrafast chemical dynamics of atoms and molecules studied by femtosecond time-resolved extreme ultraviolet transient absorption spectroscopy

  • Author(s): Lin, Ming-Fu
  • Advisor(s): Leone, Stephen R
  • et al.

Ultrafast femtosecond (10-15 s) dynamics of atomic xenon, vinyl bromide and carbon disulfide molecules are studied using a newly developed method of extreme ultraviolet (XUV) transient absorption spectroscopy. This research work is devoted to a deeper understanding of the fundamental electronic and nuclear dynamics using XUV light pulses from a high-order harmonic generation source. The produced XUV light pulses are utilized to selectively probe the chemical reaction coordinate with femtosecond temporal resolution. The experimental apparatus for transient absorption pump-probe spectroscopy is described in detail. The research described in this thesis contains four different gaseous atomic and molecular systems. The first system in the study is motivated by a goal to gain a better understanding of the core-excited state couplings of atomic xenon near zero delay between an intense NIR pump pulse (780 nm) and an XUV probe pulse. Secondly, the ionization and dissociation dynamics of molecular vinyl bromide (C2H3Br) under the influence of strong-field ionization are investigated. Finally, an ongoing research project of CS2 and thiophene molecules is presented for future studies of spin-orbit wavepacket and ring-opening dynamics, respectively.

The NIR induced core-excited state coupling of atomic xenon is studied using femtosecond XUV transient absorption spectroscopy with photon energies between 50 eV to 70 eV. Coupling of the core-excited states 4d-1(2D5/2)6p(2P3/2) (65.1 eV) and 4d-1(2D3/2)6p(2P1/2) (67.0 eV) to neighboring states by the NIR field results in a threefold enhancement of XUV transmission. The induced transmission at 65.1 eV (67.0 eV) changes from 3.2 ± 0.4% (5.9 ± 0.5%) without the coupling laser to 9 ± 2% (22 ± 5%) at the maximum of the NIR field. A NIR field induced broad XUV absorption feature ranging from 60 eV to 65 eV is explained by the splitting of the field free absorption lines into multiplets when the Rabi frequencies of the coupling transitions higher than the NIR frequency. This assignment is supported by a numerical integration of the von Neumann equation for a few level quantum system.

The dissociative ionization dynamics of vinyl bromide, C2H3Br, initiated by a strong laser field ionization are investigated. XUV light pulses with photon energy between 50 eV and 72 eV are utilized to detect the subsequent dynamics. Several dynamic features are observed including the neutral C2H3Br depletion, the formation of C2H3Br+ ions (X and A states), the production of C2H3Br++ dications, and the emergence of neutral Br (2P3/2) atoms from dissociative ionization. Free Br (2P3/2) atoms appear on a timescale of 330±150 fs. The singly charged ionic A state displays a time-dependent XUV absorption energy shift of ~0.4 eV during the first 300 fs after strong-filed ionization. The signal intensity from Br atoms correlates with the signal intensity from singly charged parent ions in the A state as a function of NIR laser peak intensity. The experimental observations suggest that vibrationally excited C2H3Br+ (A) ions possibly undergo ultrafast intramolecular vibrational energy redistribution concurrent with the C-Br bond dissociation within a time scale of 330±150 fs. The C2H3Br+ (X) and C2H3Br++ ions are relatively stable as a consequence of deeper potential wells and a high dissociation barrier, respectively.

Two ongoing experiments of sulfur-containing molecules are presented that are aimed at future studies of a molecular spin-orbit wavepacket in CS2+ ions and ultrafast ring-opening dynamics of thiophene. Strong-field ionization can coherently populate two spin-orbit states in CS2+ ions. The spin-orbit splitting originates from the atomic sulfur (~60 meV). The small splitting offers the possibility to probe a coherent beating on a time scale of 69 fs, well beyond our temporal resolution of 25 fs. For thiophene, an ultrafast ring-opening process initiated by one-photon excitation at 193 nm is studied through multiphoton ionization at 780 nm. The parent ion population exhibits a fast decay on a time scale of 200±30 fs. This offers a reference for the future XUV transient absorption experiments using one-photon excitation at 193 nm and sulfur (2p) L-edge detection at 165 eV.

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