Molecular Foundry staff and users have, for the first time, directly characterized the 200 femtosecond electron movements of a chemical reaction’s transient state.
Significance and Impact
The reaction of cyclic molecules is a ubiquitous chemical process and a key step in the photobiological synthesis of vitamin D in the skin and in optoelectronic technologies underlying optical switching, optical data storage, and photochromic devices.
- The researchers collected snapshots of the electronic structure during the reaction by using femtosecond pulses of X-ray light on a tabletop apparatus and then decoded the data through a series of theoretical simulations.
- The simulations modeled both the ring-opening process and the interaction of the X-rays with the molecule during its transformation.