Strong-field induced fragmentation and isomerization of toluene probed by ultrafast femtosecond electron diffraction and mass spectrometry†
We investigate the fragmentation and isomerization of toluene molecules induced by strong-field ionization with a femtosecond near-infrared laser pulse. Momentum-resolved coincidence time-of-flight ion mass spectrometry is used to determine the relative yield of different ionic products and fragmentation channels as a function of laser intensity. Ultrafast electron diffraction is used to capture the structure of the ions formed on a picosecond time scale by comparing the diffraction signal with theoretical predictions. Through the combination of the two measurements and theory, we are able to determine the main fragmentation channels and to distinguish between ions with identical mass but different structures. In addition, our diffraction measurements show that the independent atom model, which is widely used to analyze electron diffraction patterns, is not a good approximation for diffraction from ions. We show that the diffraction data is in very good agreement with ab initio scattering calculations.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Time resolved imaging of photo-induced dynamics