Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Femtosecond laser observations of molecular vibration and rotation

Abstract

ULTRAFAST molecular vibrations and rotations are the fundamental motions that characterize chemical bonding and determine reaction dynamics at the molecular level. The timescales for these motions are typically 10−10 s for vibrations and 10−13 s for rotations. For decades, time-integrated (frequency-resolved) spectros-copy has provided a powerful tool for probing the dynamics of motion, but the motions themselves are not 'seen' directly in real-time. With femtosecond laser techniques1–4 it is now possible to follow the motions of isolated molecular systems as they occur. The requirement is that the system is excited (for vibration) and aligned (for rotation) on a timescale shorter than the vibrational and rotational periods. Here we report real-time observations of these molecular motions. The system—in this case, molecular iodine—is prepared in the particular state(s) of interest by coherent excitation with an initial femtosecond laser pulse, and the subsequent motions are probed with successive femtosecond pulses. The probe monitors changes in the interatomic distance (vibration) or molecular orientation (rotation), so that the measured signal provides direct 'snapshots' of the molecular motions.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Zewail, A. H. Science 242, 1645–1653 (1988).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Zewail, A. H. & Bernstein, R. B. Chem. Engng News 66, 24–43 (1988).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Smith, I. W. M. Nature 328, 760–761 (1987).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Baggot, J. New Scientist 1669, 58–62 (1989).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Dantus, M., Rosker, M. J. & Zewail, A. H. J. chem. Phys. 89, 6128–6140 (1988).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bowman, R. M., Dantus, M. & Zewail, A. H. Chem. Phys. Lett. 161, 297–302 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Rose, T. S., Rosker, M. J. & Zewail, A. H. J. chem. Phys. 91, 7415–7436 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Dantus, M., Bowman, R. M., Gruebele, M. & Zewail, A. H. J. chem. Phys. 91, 7437–7450 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Zewail, A. H. J. chem. Soc. Faraday Trans. II 85, 1221–1242 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Dantus, M., Bowman, R. M., Baskin, J. S. & Zewail, A. H. Chem. Phys. Lett. 189, 406–412 (1989).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Felker, P. M. & Zewail, A. H. J. chem. Phys. 86, 2460–2482 (1987).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Baskin, J. S., Felker, P. M. & Zewail, A. H. J. chem. Phys. 86, 2483–2499 (1987).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Mulliken, R. S. J. chem. Phys. 55, 288–309 (1971).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Tellinghuisen, J. J. chem. Phys. 58, 2821–2834 (1973).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Gerstenkorn, S. & Luc, P. J. Phys. (Paris) 46, 867–881 (1985).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Brand, J. C. D. & Hoy, A. R. Appl. Spectrosc. Rev. 23, 285–327 (1987).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dantus, M., Bowman, R. & Zewail, A. Femtosecond laser observations of molecular vibration and rotation. Nature 343, 737–739 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1038/343737a0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/343737a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing