An international team of scientists has published the findings of an experiment that could serve as a model for studying transition states in atoms and molecules. This would provide new opportunities to learn more about important processes like photocatalysis, the first steps in photosynthesis, and radiation damage. The researchers used high-resolution electron spectroscopy to capture a snapshot of the transient state produced when X-rays punch a hole in the atomic electron cloud’s core.
The researchers used intense X-ray pulses to remove electrons from a neon atom’s inner shell, or core, and then used a second photon from the same X-ray pulse to map out the ‘hollow’ atom.
It is the first time scientists have been able to obtain information on the electronic structure of this core-hole transient state using X-ray-induced electron spectroscopy, specifically by measuring the energy of the electrons emitted after the excitation by the second photon while smoothly changing the wavelength of the X-ray pulses.
The results of this paper and another recently published paper demonstrate the outstanding capability of efficiently controlling and probing excitations of specific electronic subshells at the SQS instrument. Researchers can enable atomic or element-specific excitations in molecular targets and independently investigate the influence on photon-induced molecular dynamics for each atom.
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