Electron-density distributions and potential-energy surfaces are important for predicting the physical properties and chemical reactivity of molecular systems. Whereas angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy enables the reconstruction of molecular-orbital densities of condensed species1, absorption or traditional photoelectron spectroscopy are widely employed to study molecular potentials of isolated species. However, the information they provide is often limited because not all vibrational substates are excited near the vertical electronic transitions from the ground state. Moreover, many electronic states cannot be observed owing to selection rules or low transition probabilities. In many other cases, the extraction of the potentials is impossible owing to the high densities of overlapping electronic states. Here we use resonant photoemission spectroscopy, where the absence of strict dipole selection rules in Auger decay enables access to a larger number of final states as compared with radiative decay. Furthermore, by populating highly excited vibrational substates in the intermediate core-excited state, it is possible to ‘pull out’ molecular states that were hidden by overlapping spectral regions before.
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Experiments were carried out at the PLEIADES beamline at SOLEIL Synchrotron, France (proposal number 99090106). We are grateful to J. B. A. Mitchell for his suggestions, to E. Robert for technical assistance and to the SOLEIL staff for smoothly running the facility. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement 252781, from Triangle de la physique under contract 2007-010T, from JSPS and from the Swedish Research Council.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Miron, C., Nicolas, C., Travnikova, O. et al. Imaging molecular potentials using ultrahigh-resolution resonant photoemission. Nature Phys 8, 135–138 (2012) doi:10.1038/nphys2159
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