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The abundance and relevance of organic molecules similar to benzene makes their study important. Studying the interactions of such molecules with intense light fields has implications for the generation of short-wavelength radiation, attosecond science, high-harmonic generation, and many other fields. However, the computing power necessary to complete fully ab initio calculations describing molecules of this size does not exist; this leaves theoretical studies to rely on assumptions and approximations just to calculate the energies of the ground state. Including any sort of dynamics in these calculations is prohibitively complicated, and this makes experimental observations important. Since many organic molecules are similar, it is possible to construct systematic series out of groups of molecules which differ from each other by a single structural parameter. Any differences in the intense-field behaviors between two molecules in such a series must then be a result of the structural parameter that is different. This dissertation is dedicated to the study of systematic series of organic molecules similar to benzene (C6H6). Our experiments are sensitive to the dynamics of photoionization and photofragmentation processes which result from interacting molecules in the gas phase with ultrafast (50 fs, 800 nm) laser pulses.
Adviser: Professor Cornelis Uiterwaal