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Monitoring Molecular Dynamics Using Coherent Electrons from High Harmonic Generation

Nicholas L. Wagner, Andrea Wüest, Ivan P. Christov, Tenio Popmintchev, Xibin Zhou, Margaret M. Murnane and Henry C. Kapteyn
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 103, No. 36 (Sep. 5, 2006), pp. 13279-13285
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30050778
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Monitoring Molecular Dynamics Using Coherent Electrons from High Harmonic Generation
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Abstract

We report a previously undescribed spectroscopic probe that makes use of electrons rescattered during the process of highorder harmonic generation. We excite coherent vibrations in SF₆ using impulsive stimulated Raman scattering with a short laser pulse. A second, more intense laser pulse generates high-order harmonics of the fundamental laser, at wavelengths of ≈20-50 nm. The high-order harmonic yield is observed to oscillate, at frequencies corresponding to all of the Raman-active modes of SF₆, with an asymmetric mode most visible. The data also show evidence of relaxation dynamics after impulsive excitation of the molecule. Theoretical modeling indicates that the high harmonic yield should be modulated by both Raman and infrared-active vibrational modes. Our results indicate that high harmonic generation is a very sensitive probe of vibrational dynamics and may yield more information simultaneously than conventional ultrafast spectroscopic techniques. Because the de Broglie wavelength of the recolliding electron is on the order of interatomic distances, i.e., ≈1.5 Å, small changes in the shape of the molecule lead to large changes in the high harmonic yield. This work therefore demonstrates a previously undescribed spectroscopic technique for probing ultrafast internal dynamics in molecules and, in particular, on the chemically important ground-state potential surface.

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