National Research Council of Canada. Security and Disruptive Technologies
acetylene; cation; proton; acetylene; cation; chemical reaction; molecular analysis; ab initio calculation; absorption; chemical reaction; density functional theory; electric field; electron; imaging; ionization; isomerization; laser; molecule; photon; ultraviolet radiation; vacuum
The introduction of femto-chemistry has made it a primary goal to follow the nuclear and electronic evolution of a molecule in time and space as it undergoes a chemical reaction. Using Coulomb Explosion Imaging, we have shot the first high-resolution molecular movie of a to and fro isomerization process in the acetylene cation. So far, this kind of phenomenon could only be observed using vacuum ultraviolet light from a free-electron laser. Here we show that 266 ‰nm ultrashort laser pulses are capable of initiating rich dynamics through multiphoton ionization. With our generally applicable tabletop approach that can be used for other small organic molecules, we have investigated two basic chemical reactions simultaneously: proton migration and C=C bond breaking, triggered by multiphoton ionization. The experimental results are in excellent agreement with the timescales and relaxation pathways predicted by new and quantitative ab initio trajectory simulations.