The Born Oppenheimer approximation (BOA) simplifies the electron-nuclear interaction by separation of their motion and is one of the milestones in the development of quantum physics and computational chemistry during the first half of the last century. Yet, in order to properly describe many chemical reactions, it is necessary to go beyond the BOA.
Our research objective is to probe the electronic change in metal carbonyls during the passage of a conical intersection with ultrafast pulses in the extreme ultraviolet and soft x-ray range. The transitions induced by the highly energetic photons happen between an atomic core level of atoms inside a molecule and the molecular valence levels. Because of the spatially narrow core level, the transition is highly localized within an Angstrom or even less. Furthermore, the probe transition is element selective since the edges are markedly different for different elements. Equipped with this temporal and unprecedented spatial resolution, we will be able to advance the experimental the state-of-the-art and gain insight into the intricacies of non-BOA processes.
The metal carbonyls under study have similarities with active centers in respiration and photosynthesis, and with the building blocks used for solar energy conversion, molecular electronics, magnetic data storage, light emitting diodes, dynamic cancer phototherapy and other subjects. This proposal has therefore a truly interdisciplinary basis and we believe that the lesson to be learned and the tools to be developed in the frame of this work will be fruitful in many fields such as physics, optics, materials science, chemistry, and biology.
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