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Acta Crystallogr A. 2010 Mar;66(Pt 2):229-39. doi: 10.1107/S010876730904968X. Epub 2010 Feb 9.

Picosecond and femtosecond X-ray absorption spectroscopy of molecular systems.

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  • Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Laboratoire de Spectroscopie Ultrarapide, ISIC, Faculté des Sciences de Base, Station 6, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland. majed.chergui@epfl.ch


The need to visualize molecular structure in the course of a chemical reaction, a phase transformation or a biological function has been a dream of scientists for decades. The development of time-resolved X-ray and electron-based methods is making this true. X-ray absorption spectroscopy is ideal for the study of structural dynamics in liquids, because it can be implemented in amorphous media. Furthermore, it is chemically selective. Using X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) in laser pump/X-ray probe experiments allows the retrieval of the local geometric structure of the system under study, but also the underlying photoinduced electronic structure changes that drive the structural dynamics. Recent developments in picosecond and femtosecond X-ray absorption spectroscopy applied to molecular systems in solution are reviewed: examples on ultrafast photoinduced processes such as intramolecular electron transfer, low-to-high spin change, and bond formation are presented.

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