We report experimental results on x-ray diffraction of quantum-state-selected and strongly aligned ensembles of the prototypical asymmetric rotor molecule 2,5-diiodobenzonitrile using the Linac Coherent Light Source. The experiments demonstrate first steps toward a new approach to diffractive imaging of distinct structures of individual, isolated gas-phase molecules. We confirm several key ingredients of single molecule diffraction experiments: the abilities to detect and count individual scattered x-ray photons in single shot diffraction data, to deliver state-selected, e.g., structural-isomer-selected, ensembles of molecules to the x-ray interaction volume, and to strongly align the scattering molecules. Our approach, using ultrashort x-ray pulses, is suitable to study ultrafast dynamics of isolated molecules.

Phys. Rev. Lett.

Kuepper, J., Stern, S., Holmegaard, L., Filsinger, F., Rouzée, A., Rudenko, A., … et al., . (2014). X-Ray Diffraction from Isolated and Strongly Aligned Gas-Phase Molecules with a Free-Electron Laser. Phys.Rev.Lett., 112(8, Article number: 83002), 1–6. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.083002