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Ultrafast strong-field dissociation of vinyl bromide: An attosecond transient absorption spectroscopy and non-adiabatic molecular dynamics study

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Attosecond extreme ultraviolet (XUV) and soft x-ray sources provide powerful new tools for studying ultrafast molecular dynamics with atomic, state, and charge specificity. In this report, we employ attosecond transient absorption spectroscopy (ATAS) to follow strong-field-initiated dynamics in vinyl bromide. Probing the Br M edge allows one to assess the competing processes in neutral and ionized molecular species. Using ab initio non-adiabatic molecular dynamics, we simulate the neutral and cationic dynamics resulting from the interaction of the molecule with the strong field. Based on the dynamics results, the corresponding time-dependent XUV transient absorption spectra are calculated by applying high-level multi-reference methods. The state-resolved analysis obtained through the simulated dynamics and related spectral contributions enables a detailed and quantitative comparison with the experimental data. The main outcome of the interaction with the strong field is unambiguously the population of the first three cationic states, D 1, D 2, and D 3. The first two show exclusively vibrational dynamics while the D 3 state is characterized by an ultrafast dissociation of the molecule via C-Br bond rupture within 100 fs in 50% of the analyzed trajectories. The combination of the three simulated ionic transient absorption spectra is in excellent agreement with the experimental results. This work establishes ATAS in combination with high-level multi-reference simulations as a spectroscopic technique capable of resolving coupled non-adiabatic electronic-nuclear dynamics in photoexcited molecules with sub-femtosecond resolution.

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