Ultrafast XUV Spectroscopy: Unveiling the Nature of Electronic Couplings in Molecular Dynamics
AuthorTimmers, Henry Robert
High Harmonic Generation
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMolecules are traditionally treated quantum mechanically using the Born-Oppenheimer formalism. In this formalism, different electronic states of the molecule are treated independently. However, most photo-initiated phenomena occurring in nature are driven by the couplings between different electronic states in both isolated molecules and molecular aggregates, and therefore occur beyond the Born-Oppenheimer formalism. These couplings are relevant in reactions relating to the perception of vision in the human eye, the oxidative damage and repair of DNA, the harvesting of light in photosynthesis, and the transfer of charge across large chains of molecules. While these reaction dynamics have traditionally been studied with visible and ultraviolet spectroscopy, attosecond XUV pulses formed through the process of high harmonic generation form a perfect tool for probing coupled electronic dynamics in molecules. In this thesis, I will present our work in using ultrafast, XUV spectroscopy to study these dynamics in molecules of increasing complexity. We begin by probing the relaxation dynamics of superexcited states in diatomic O₂. These states can relax via two types of electronic couplings, either through autoionization or neutral dissociation. We find that our pump-probe scheme can disentangle the two relaxation mechanisms and independently measure their contributing lifetimes. Next, we present our work in observing a coherent electron hole wavepacket initiated by the ionization of polyatomic CO₂ near a conical intersection. The electron-nuclear couplings near the conical intersection drive the electron hole between different orbital configurations. We find that we can not only measure the lifetime of quantum coherence in the electron hole wavepacket, but also control its evolution with a strong, infrared probing field. Finally, we propose an experiment to observe the migration of an electron hole across iodobenzene on the few-femtosecond timescale. We present experimental modifications made to the high harmonic generation set-up in order to probe this ultrafast and elusive charge migration. These results demonstrate the potential of ultrafast, XUV spectroscopy in probing the inner-workings of electronic couplings occurring in nature.
Degree ProgramGraduate College