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Ultrafast Electron Dynamics in a Biomolecule Initiated by Attosecond Pulses

 

Several european researchers have been able to induce and measure an ultrafast charge migration in a complex molecule. This phenomenon precede any structural rearrangement of molecules and is the basis of many biological processes. The work has been published in the journal Science.

The work arises from a cooperation among several European researchers. A clear experimental evidence of ultrafast charge dynamics in the phenylalanine amino acid, after prompt ionization induced by attosecond pulses, has been found. Charge migration shows up as oscillations in the yield of a doubly-charged molecular fragment produced from ionization of a second electron by a probe pulse as a function of its delay time. Two main frequencies were measured: 0.24 PHz (corresponding to a period of 4.2 fs) and 0.36 PHz (period of 2.8 fs), thus confirming the electronic origin of the measured dynamics. Numerical simulations of the temporal evolution of the electronic wave packet created by the attosecond pulse strongly support the interpretation of the experimental data in terms of charge migration.

The theoretical work has been done by David Ayuso, Alicia Palacios and Fernando Martín, from the CampuS group.

 

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