This laboratory focuses on understanding the interaction of large molecules with intense laser pulses having wavelengths in the near infrared. The intensities currently available using table-top terawatt lasers are sufficient to dramatically alter the wave function of all molecules, regardless of atomic composition or size. While the interaction of the laser pulse with a given molecule may only last for the duration of the laser pulse (from tens of femtoseconds to several picoseconds) we have demonstrated that the effect is strong enough to selectively induce chemistry in polyatomic molecules. This new research area, called “strong field chemistry,” presents many opportunities to explore new regimes for photochemistry. In these experiments, the electric field of the laser is on the order of, or exceeds, the electrostatic fields binding valence electrons to molecules. The interaction of the laser with the molecule can no longer be viewed as a weak perturbation on the field free eigenstates of the molecule. Rather the combination of the intense laser pulse and the molecule creates a new, time-dependent “laser-molecule” that may react in new and unexpected ways.





Levis Group, Department of Chemistry, Temple University, Beury Hall 244, 1901 N. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122    Tel: 215-204-5241     Fax: 215-204-6179
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