Site-specific interrogation of an ionic chiral fragment during photolysis using an X-ray free-electron laser


Short-wavelength free-electron lasers with their ultrashort pulses at high intensities have originated new approaches for tracking molecular dynamics from the vista of specific sites. X-ray pump X-ray probe schemes even allow to address individual atomic constituents with a ‘trigger’-event that preludes the subsequent molecular dynamics while being able to selectively probe the evolving structure with a time-delayed second X-ray pulse. Here, we use a linearly polarized X-ray photon to trigger the photolysis of a prototypical chiral molecule, namely trifluoromethyloxirane (C3H3F3O), at the fluorine K-edge at around 700 eV. The created fluorine-containing fragments are then probed by a second, circularly polarized X-ray pulse of higher photon energy in order to investigate the chemically shifted inner-shell electrons of the ionic mother-fragment for their stereochemical sensitivity. We experimentally demonstrate and theoretically support how two-color X-ray pump X-ray probe experiments with polarization control enable XFELs as tools for chiral recognition.

Communications Chemistry
Thomas Wolf
Thomas Wolf
Staff Scientist

My research is focused on discovering structure-function relationships in ultrafast photochemistry to better understand and eventually control this type of reactions.