Ultrafast dynamics of low-energy electron attachment via a non-valence correlation-bound state


The primary electron-attachment process in electron-driven chemistry represents one of the most fundamental chemical transformations with wide-ranging importance in science and technology. However, the mechanistic detail of the seemingly simple reaction of an electron and a neutral molecule to form an anion remains poorly understood, particularly at very low electron energies. Here, time-resolved photoelectron imaging was used to probe the electron-attachment process to a non-polar molecule using time-resolved methods. An initially populated diffuse non-valence state of the anion that is bound by correlation forces evolves coherently in 30 fs into a valence state of the anion. The extreme efficiency with which the correlation-bound state serves as a doorway state for low-energy electron attachment explains a number of electron-driven processes, such as anion formation in the interstellar medium and electron attachment to fullerenes.

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Figure 1: Photoelectron spectra of I·C6F6.
Figure 2: Time-resolved dynamics of I·C6F6 after excitation at 3.10 eV.
Figure 3: Schematic energy-level diagram and molecular orbitals involved in electron capture.


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We thank J. N. Bull for his valuable contribution in building the experiment that enabled this work. This work was funded by the European Research Council under Starting Grant 306536.

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J.R.R.V. conceived the experiments. J.P.R. conducted the experiments and C.S.A. the calculations. J.P.R., C.S.A. and J.R.R.V. analysed the data and discussed the results. J.R.R.V. wrote the manuscript with contributions from J.P.R. and C.S.A.

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Correspondence to Jan R. R. Verlet.

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Rogers, J., Anstöter, C. & Verlet, J. Ultrafast dynamics of low-energy electron attachment via a non-valence correlation-bound state. Nature Chem 10, 341–346 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.2912

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