A novel method of spectroscopy for highly excited states of molecules in the valence excitation range has been established through the detection of metastable hydrogen atoms in the 2s state formed by photoexcitation. The detector for the metastable hydrogen atom is composed of a stack of parallel plate electrodes that creates a localized electric field and triggers the emission of the Lyman- α photon from the atom and a chevron pair of microchannel plates that detects the photon. For linear molecules, the angle-resolved detection of the metastable hydrogen atom enables us to measure cross sections in which electronic symmetries of highly excited molecular states are resolved. Such symmetry-resolved cross section measurements were carried out for doubly excited states of H2.
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