"Observing correlated-electron dynamics inside molecules"
How electrons move inside matter determines chemical reactions, macro- and bio-molecular (re)activity, and photovoltaic energy transfer. At their fastest, these electronic dynamics unfold on attosecond to femtosecond regimes (10-15 to 10-18 second). So, observing dynamics at the spatial and temporal scales of electron motions in molecules is a formidable challenge, one that holds the promise of going beyond the “what happened” of spectroscopy to the “how did that happen” that a movie provides. New attosecond light sources and state-of-the-art simulations are now opening this frontier. In this talk, using organic molecules and high-level theory as examples, I will highlight recent developments and future perspectives for observing coherent electron motion in those systems. Specifically, I will show how physical attochemistry establishes simple rules for predicting and characterizing ultrafast electronic motions in a large range of molecular systems. I will also explain how nonlinear analyses can unravel the intricate many-correlated-electron dynamics that take place inside these molecules and lay out a path for observing them in future experiments. Looking forward, I will discuss future theoretical efforts to (i) understand how the ultrafast electron motion couples to nuclear dynamics and directs down-stream reaction pathways, and (ii) use attosecond x-ray light sources to make electronic movies come to life. This research, at the frontier of theoretical ultrafast science, involves cross-disciplinary approaches intersecting atomic and molecular physics, physical chemistry, optics and lasers, applied mathematics and computer science.
Thursday, March 31, 2022 at 3:30pm to 4:30pm