Yanwei Xiong http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9412-4447
Martin Centurion http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5662-2293
Anatoly A. Ischenko http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1532-377X
Zheng Li http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0329-1275
Date of this Version
NATURE COMMUNICATIONS (2021) 12:5441
Ultrafast electron diffraction and time-resolved serial crystallography are the basis of the ongoing revolution in capturing at the atomic level of detail the structural dynamics of molecules. However, most experiments capture only the probability density of the nuclear wavepackets to determine the time-dependent molecular structures, while the full quantum state has not been accessed. Here, we introduce a framework for the preparation and ultrafast coherent diffraction from rotational wave packets of molecules, and we establish a new variant of quantum state tomography for ultrafast electron diffraction to characterize the molecular quantum states. The ability to reconstruct the density matrix, which encodes the amplitude and phase of the wavepacket, for molecules of arbitrary degrees of freedom, will enable the reconstruction of a quantum molecular movie from experimental x-ray or electron diffraction data.