Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


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Published in PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 102, 213001 (2009). Copyright (c) 2009 The American Physical Society. Used by permission.


We experimentally demonstrate ultrafast electron diffraction from transiently aligned molecules in the absence of external (aligning) fields. A sample of aligned molecules is generated through photodissociation with femtosecond laser pulses, and the diffraction pattern is captured by probing the sample with picosecond electron pulses shortly after dissociation—before molecular rotation causes the alignment to vanish. In our experiments the alignment decays with a time constant of 2.6 ± 1.2 ps.

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