Molecular frame photoemission by a comb of elliptical high-order harmonics: a sensitive probe of both photodynamics and harmonic complete polarization state
Due to the intimate anisotropic interaction between an XUV light field and a molecule resulting in photoionization (PI), molecular frame photoelectron angular distributions (MFPADs) are most sensitive probes of both electronic/nuclear dynamics and the polarization state of the ionizing light field. Consequently, they encode the complex dipole matrix elements describing the dynamics of the PI transition, as well as the three normalized Stokes parameters s1, s2, s3 characterizing the complete polarization state of the light, operating as molecular polarimetry. The remarkable development of advanced light sources delivering attosecond XUV pulses opens the perspective to visualize the primary steps of photochemical dynamics in time-resolved studies, at the natural attosecond to few femtosecond time-scales of electron dynamics and fast nuclear motion. It is thus timely to investigate the feasibility of measurement of MFPADs when PI is induced e.g., by an attosecond pulse train (APT) corresponding to a comb of discrete high-order harmonics. In the work presented here, we report MFPAD studies based on coincident electron-ion 3D momentum imaging in the context of ultrafast molecular dynamics investigated at the PLFA facility (CEA-SLIC), with two perspectives: (i) using APTs generated in atoms/molecules as a source for MFPAD-resolved PI studies, and (ii) taking advantage of molecular polarimetry to perform a complete polarization analysis of the harmonic emission of molecules, a major challenge of high harmonic spectroscopy. Recent results illustrating both aspects are reported for APTs generated in unaligned SF6 molecules by an elliptically polarized infrared driving field. The observed fingerprints of the elliptically polarized harmonics include the first direct determination of the complete s1, s2, s3 Stokes vector, equivalent to (ψ, ε, P), the orientation and the signed ellipticity of the polarization ellipse, and the degree of polarization P. They are compared to so far incomplete results of XUV optical polarimetry. We finally discuss the comparison between the outcomes of photoionization and high harmonic spectroscopy for the description of molecular photodynamics.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Ultrafast Imaging of Photochemical Dynamics