Capturing electron-driven chiral dynamics in UV-excited molecules. (

These scientists wanted to understand how some special molecules, called chiral molecules, behave when they are hit with light. Chiral molecules are like your hands - they come in two shapes that are mirror images of each other, but you can't superimpose them perfectly. These shapes are called (R) and (S) enantiomers. When these molecules interact with other chiral molecules, they can show different properties.

The scientists used a very fast technology called attosecond technology to study how electrons move inside these chiral molecules when they are exposed to light. They found that the electrons move in a special way, causing changes in how the molecules respond to light. By using a special technique called time-resolved photoelectron circular dichroism, they were able to see these electronic movements with a super-fast temporal resolution of 2.9 femtoseconds.

The scientists discovered that the electrons in these chiral molecules move in a rhythmic way, creating patterns in how the molecules react to light. This pattern changes very quickly, in less than 10 femtoseconds. The scientists also showed that by combining the movement of electrons with a special type of light, they could control how the molecules orient themselves.

By studying these fast electronic movements in chiral molecules, the scientists hope to learn more about how these molecules behave and potentially find new ways to control their reactions.

Wanie V., Bloch E., Mansson EP., Colaizzi L., Ryabchuk S., Saraswathula K., Ordonez AF., Ayuso D., Smirnova O., Trabattoni A., Blanchet V., Ben Amor N., Heitz MC., Mairesse Y., Pons B., Calegari F. Capturing electron-driven chiral dynamics in UV-excited molecules. Nature. 2024 May 22. doi: 10.1038/s41586-024-07415-y.

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