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Colloquium | Physics Colloquium | Physics Division

Toward Making Molecular Movies

PHY Colloquium

Abstract: In the past decade, improved laser technology from the Infrared to the X-ray régime has allowed scientists to advance the frontiers of time-resolved ultrafast science. In particular, free-electron lasers (FELs) have been identified as the highest priority for facility construction under the the U.S. Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences program. Photo-induced molecular dynamics research is being pursued aggressively with complementary photon sources with the ultimate goal of making molecular movies. These movies follow the electronic and nuclear dynamics induced by the absorption of light by molecules that occur because of the coupling between the electronic and nuclear motion. This coupling first leads to attosecond electron excitation within the molecules, followed by nuclear motion in the femtosecond range, eventually resulting in the formation and breaking of chemical bonds on the picosecond time scale. Research highlights will be presented.