Research in the Ultrafast Molecular Imaging Group

Schematic illustration of the photon-induced photolysis dynamics in p-fluorophenylacetylene molecules. Presumably, the dissociation can happen via various transition states (TS) into several different reaction channels whose relative contributions are still unclear. The time-constants and structures of the proposed intermediates have also not been determined so far and are subject of our studies.

The successes of the world’s first VUV and X-Ray Free-Electron Lasers FLASH at DESY in Hamburg, LCLS at SLAC in Stanford, SACLA in Japan, and FERMI in Trieste together with the continuing technical advances in the creation of (sub-) femtosecond VUV pulses by high harmonic generation (HHG) have turned the once lofty vision of “recording a molecular movie” with femtosecond temporal and atomic scale structural resolution into a realistic scenario.

Combining the unprecedented X-ray intensities and short pulses available at Free-Electron Laser facilities with the pump-probe techniques developed with conventional laboratory-based femtosecond laser systems, research in the Ultrafast Molecular Imaging Group focuses on establishing and further developing the experimental techniques capable of imaging photochemical reactions in gas-phase molecules with atomic spatial and femtosecond temporal resolution in order to study exemplary reactions of chemical relevance with the goal of clarifying their pathways.

Research activities of the Ultrafast Molecular Imaging Group