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Journal Articles Nature Physics Year : 2015

Probing molecular chirality on a sub-femtosecond timescale

B. Fabre
Y. Mairesse


Chiral molecules that are non-superimposable mirror images of each other, known as enantiomers, have identical chemical and physical properties unless they interact with another chiral entity, such as chiral light. Chiroptical effects arising from such interactions are used to detect enantiomers in mixtures and to induce enantioselective synthesis and catalysis. Chiroptical effects often arise from the interplay between light-induced electric- and magnetic-dipole transitions in a molecule and evolve on ultrafast electronic timescales. Here we use high-harmonic generation from a randomly oriented gas of molecules subjected to an intense laser field, to probe chiral interactions on these sub-femtosecond timescales. We show that a slight disparity in the laser-driven electron dynamics in the two enantiomers is recorded and amplified by several orders of magnitude in the harmonic spectra. Our work shows that chiroptical detection can go beyond detecting chiral structure to resolving and controlling chiral dynamics on electronic timescales

Dates and versions

hal-01211495 , version 1 (05-10-2015)



Raluca Cireasa, A. E. Boguslavskiy, B. Pons, M. C. H. Wong, D. Descamps, et al.. Probing molecular chirality on a sub-femtosecond timescale. Nature Physics, 2015, 11 (8), pp.654-658. ⟨10.1038/nphys3369⟩. ⟨hal-01211495⟩
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