Filming molecular chiral dynamics from the inside with FEL

Chiral molecules are essential for understanding many aspects of chemistry, biology, and physics. A chiral molecule is non-superimposable with its mirror image and exists in two different forms called enantiomers. The reactivity and biological and pharmacological activity of chiral molecules can vary significantly depending on the configuration of the enantiomers. Understanding this property is crucial for developing technologically innovative and advanced solutions in materials science, pharmaceuticals, and catalysis.

The scientific communities of biology and chemistry have devoted significant efforts to exploring the phenomenon of chirality, yet much remains unknown about the ultrafast dynamics of chiral compounds. Time-Resolved Photo-Electron Circular Dichroism (TR-PECD) has recently emerged as a promising approach for investigating time-dependent chiral dynamics, as it enables researchers to observe the enantio-dependent structural relaxation of a molecule on a femtosecond timescale. The technique involves utilizing an ultrashort circular pulse to ionize a photo-excited molecule from the valence shell, where the transient dichroism of the medium is mapped on the forward-backward asymmetry of the photoelectron emission along the pulse propagation axis. Despite its potential, the non-local character of this approach makes the interpretation of the experimental results challenging.

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