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IQTC Seminar: Fernando Martin

Real-time imaging and control of electron dynamics in molecules: towards attosecond chemistry

Tuesday November 7th 2023, 12:00h

Aula Magna Enric Casassas

From water to DNA, all chemical reactions involve breaking and forming bonds, in which atomic nuclei are forced to live close to each other or to separate forever. But this is the consequence of the way electrons move. Thus, chemical reactivity results from the combined action of the “fast” electronic motion and the “slow” motion of atomic nuclei. Following the motion of the latter was possible by the end of the twentieth century with the help of femtosecond laser pulses. With the advent of attosecond light pulses at the dawn of the twenty first century, access to the time scale of electronic motion, i.e., the ultimate time scale responsible for chemical transformations, was finally at our reach. This was accomplished in 2010 [1] for the simplest molecule in nature, hydrogen, and, in 2014 [2], for phenylalanine amino acid. Since then, the field has grown exponentially, leading to a discipline called attochemistry [3]. In this talk, I will review some of the most recent experimental and theoretical achievements in attosecond chemistry. All these guided by theoretical modelling [4], which has been an essential ingredient since the very beginning of this discipline. Attochemistry is still at its infancy, but its long-term goal, achieving control of chemical processes by acting on electronic motion at its natural time scale does not seem to be a remote possibility anymore [5].

[1] G. Sansone, F. Kelkensberg, J. F. Pérez-Torres, F. Morales, M. F. Kling, W. Siu, O. Ghafur, P. Johnsson, M. Swoboda, E. Benedetti, F. Ferrari, F. Lépine, J. L. Sanz-Vicario, S. Zherebtsov, I. Znakovskaya, A. L’Huillier, M. Yu. Ivanov, M. Nisoli, F. Martín, and M. J. J. Vrakking, Nature 465 763 (2010).

[2] F. Calegari, D. Ayuso, A. Trabattoni, L. Belshaw, S. De Camillis, S. Anumula, F. Frassetto, L. Poletto, A. Palacios, P. Decleva, J. B. Greenwood, F. Martín, and M. Nisoli, Science 346, 336 (2014).

[3] M. Nisoli, P. Decleva, F. Callegari, A. Palacios, and F. Martín, Chem. Rev. 117, 10760 (2017).

[4] A. Palacios and F. Martín, WIREs Comput. Mol. Sci. e1430 (2020).

[5] F. Calegari and F. Martín, Commun. Chem. 6, 184 (2023).