Molecular snapshot from an explosion

Coulomb explosion imaging of iodine pyridine (artist’s view).Credits: Goethe University Frankfurt am Main

Do you want to explode the subject to take a picture? The international research team at the European XFEL, the world’s largest X-ray laser, has applied this “extreme” method to photograph complex molecules. Scientists used an ultra-bright X-ray flash generated by the facility to take a snapshot of the gas phase iodopyridine molecule at atomic resolution. The X-ray laser exploded the molecule and reconstructed the image from the debris. “Thanks to the very powerful and especially short X-ray pulses of the European XFEL, we were able to generate images of unprecedented clarity about this method and molecular size,” said Europe, the principal investigator of the experiment. XFEL’s Rebecca Boll reports.One of the first two authors of a scientific journal publication Nature Physics The team will explain the result. Clear images of such complex molecules have not been possible with this experimental method.

Images are an important step in recording molecular films, and researchers hope to use them in the future to observe biochemical and chemical reaction or physical change details in high resolution. .. Such films are expected to stimulate the development of various research fields. “The method we use is particularly promising for investigating photochemical processes,” explains Till Jahnke of the European XFEL and the University of Goethe Frankfurt, a member of the core team conducting the investigation. Such processes, in which chemical reactions are triggered by light, are of great importance both in the laboratory and in nature, such as in photosynthesis and the visual process of the eye. “Development of molecular films is basic research. The knowledge gained from them will help us to better understand such processes in the future and develop new ideas for medicine, sustainable energy production and materials research. Probably, “explains Jahnke.

In a method known as Coulomb explosion imaging, a high-intensity, ultra-short X-ray laser pulse knocks out a large number of electrons from a molecule. Due to the strong electrostatic repulsion between the remaining positively charged atoms, the molecule explodes within a few femtoseconds (one millionth of a second). The individual ionized fragments are then scattered and registered by the detector.

“To date, Coulomb explosion imaging has been limited to small molecules consisting of five or less atoms,” said DESY’s Center for Free Electron Laser Science (CFEL), another lead author of the study. Julia Schäfer explains. “In our work, we have broken this limit of this method.” Iodine Pyridine (C)FiveHFourIN) is composed of 11 atoms.

The film studio for explosive molecular images is the European XFEL’s SQS (Small Quantum Systems) equipment. Developed specifically for these types of investigations, the COLTRIMS Reaction Microscope (REMI) applies an electric field to direct the charged fragment to the detector. The location and time of fragment collision is determined and used to reconstruct the momentum (the product of mass and velocity) at which the ions hit the detector. “This information can be used to obtain more information about the molecule. With the help of models, we can reconstruct the course of related reactions and processes,” said DESY’s study, which led the theoretical part of the work. Said Robin Santra.

Coulomb explosion imaging is especially suitable for tracking very light atoms such as hydrogen. Chemical reaction.. This technique is complementary to those developed for liquids and solids in other European XFEL instruments to create molecular movies to allow detailed investigation of individual molecules in the gas phase. It is a method.

“We want to understand the basic photochemical process in detail. In the gas phase, there is no interference from other molecules or the environment. Therefore, using our technology, individual isolated molecules You can study, “says Jahnke. “We are working on an investigation,” Bol added. Molecular dynamics The next step was to allow individual images to be combined into a real molecular movie, and we have already performed the first of these experiments. ”

Examine a snapshot of exploding oxygen

For more information:
Rebecca Boll, X-ray multiphoton-induced Coulomb explosion image complex single molecule, Nature Physics (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41567-022-01507-0..

Quote: The molecular snapshot from the explosion (February 21, 2022) was taken from https: // on February 21, 2022.

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Molecular snapshot from an explosion

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