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Studies of molecular structures at or near their equilibrium configurations have long provided information on their geometry in terms of bond distances and angles. Far-from-equilibrium structures are relatively unknown---especially for complex systems---and generally, neither their dynamics nor their average geometries can be extrapolated from equilibrium values. For such nonequilibrium structures, vibrational amplitudes and bond distances play a central role in phenomena such as energy redistribution and chemical reactivity. Ultrafast electron diffraction, which was developed to study transient molecular structures, provides a direct method for probing the nature of complex molecules far from equilibrium. Here we present our ultrafast electron diffraction observations of transient structures for two cyclic hydrocarbons. At high intern...
Comment: 33 pages, 17 figures (Review article, 2008 conference of ultrafast electron microscopy conference and ultrafast sciences)
The static structure of macromolecular assemblies can be mapped out with atomic-scale resolution by using electron diffraction and microscopy of crystals. For transient nonequilibrium structures, which are critical to the understanding of dynamics and mechanisms, both spatial and temporal resolutions are required; the shortest scales of length (0.1–1 nm) and time (10^–13 to 10^–12 s) represent the quantum limit, the nonstatistical regime of rates. Here, we report the development of ultrafast electron crystallography for direct determination of structures with submonolayer sensitivity. In these experiments, we use crystalline silicon as a template for different adsorbates: hydrogen, chlorine, and trifluoroiodomethane. We observe the coherent restructuring of the surface layers with subangstrom displacement of atoms after the ultrafast h...
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