High flux extreme ultraviolet (XUV) sources like the free electron laser (FEL) in Hamburg (FLASH) offer the possibility of diffractive imaging of small objects. Irrespective of whether the diffraction is based on the detection of photons or photoelectrons, it is required that the measurement is done in the reference frame of the molecule meaning that, for a sample of several molecules, it is necessary to pre-align the molecules in the sample. As a step towards performing molecular frame diffraction experiments, we report experiments on field-free molecular alignment performed at FLASH. The impulsive alignment induced by a 100 fs near-infrared laser pulse in a rotationally cold CO2 sample is characterized by ionizing and dissociating the molecules with a time-delayed XUV-FEL pulse. The time-dependent angular distributions of ionic fragments measured by a velocity map imaging spectrometer exhibit rapid changes associated with the induced rotational dynamics. The experimental results show hints of a dissociation process that depends nonlinearly on the XUV intensity.

J. Phys. B

Johnsson, P, Rouzée, A, Siu, W, Huismans, Y, Lépine, F, Marchenko, Tatiana, … Vrakking, M.J.J. (2009). Field-free molecular alignment probed by the free electron laser in Hamburg (FLASH). J. Phys. B, 42(Article number: 134017), 1–9. doi:10.1088/0953-4075/42/13/134017