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Femtosecond-resolved observation of the fragmentation of buckminsterfullerene following X-ray multiphoton ionization

Journal article
Authors N. Berrah
A. Sanchez-Gonzalez
Z. Jurek
R. Obaid
H. Xiong
Richard J. Squibb
T. Osipov
A. Lutman
L. Fang
T. Barillot
J.D. Bozek
J. Cryan
T.J.A. Wolf
D. Rolles
R. Coffee
K. Schnorr
S. Augustin
H. Fukuzawa
K. Motomura
N. Niebuhr
L.J. Frasinski
Raimund Feifel
C.P. Schulz
K. Toyota
S.-K. Son
K. Ueda
T. Pfeifer
J.P. Marangos
R. Santra
Published in Nature Physics
Volume 15
Pages 1279-1283
ISSN 1745-2473
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 1279-1283
Language en
Subject categories Physical Sciences, Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics


X-ray free-electron lasers have, over the past decade, opened up the possibility of understanding the ultrafast response of matter to intense X-ray pulses. In earlier research on atoms and small molecules, new aspects of this response were uncovered, such as rapid sequences of inner-shell photoionization and Auger ionization. Here, we studied a larger molecule, buckminsterfullerene (C60), exposed to 640 eV X-rays, and examined the role of chemical effects, such as chemical bonds and charge transfer, on the fragmentation following multiple ionization of the molecule. To provide time resolution, we performed femtosecond-resolved X-ray pump/X-ray probe measurements, which were accompanied by advanced simulations. The simulations and experiment reveal that despite substantial ionization induced by the ultrashort (20 fs) X-ray pump pulse, the fragmentation of C60 is considerably delayed. This work uncovers the persistence of the molecular structure of C60, which hinders fragmentation over a timescale of hundreds of femtoseconds. Furthermore, we demonstrate that a substantial fraction of the ejected fragments are neutral carbon atoms. These findings provide insights into X-ray free-electron laser-induced radiation damage in large molecules, including biomolecules.

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