An international team of scientists has published the results of an experiment that could provide a blueprint for the analysis of transition states in atoms and molecules. This would open up new opportunities to gain insights into important processes such as photocatalysis, elementary steps in photosynthesis, and radiation damage. The scientists used high-resolution electron spectroscopy to capture a snapshot of the short-lived transient state produced when X-rays punch a hole in the very core of the atomic electron cloud.
The scientists used intense X-ray pulses to first remove the electrons from the inner shell, or core, of a neon atom and then used a second photon from the same X-ray pulse to map out the ‘hollow’ atom.
This is the first time scientists are able to obtain information on the electronic structure of this core-hole transient state by X-ray induced electron spectroscopy, and, more precisely, 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.