Femtosecond-resolved observation of the fragmentation of buckminsterfullerene following X-ray multiphoton ionization

N. Berrah, A. Sanchez-Gonzalez, Z. Jurek, R. Obaid, H. Xiong, R. J. Squibb, T. Osipov, A. Lutman, L. Fang, T. Barillot, J. D. Bozek, J. Cryan, T. J.A. Wolf, D. Rolles, R. Coffee, K. Schnorr, S. Augustin, H. Fukuzawa, K. Motomura, N. NiebuhrL. J. Frasinski, R. Feifel, C. P. Schulz, K. Toyota, S. K. Son, K. Ueda, T. Pfeifer, J. P. Marangos, R. Santra

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12 Citations (Scopus)


X-ray free-electron lasers have, over the past decade, opened up the possibility of understanding the ultrafast response of matter to intense X-ray pulses. In earlier research on atoms and small molecules, new aspects of this response were uncovered, such as rapid sequences of inner-shell photoionization and Auger ionization. Here, we studied a larger molecule, buckminsterfullerene (C60), exposed to 640 eV X-rays, and examined the role of chemical effects, such as chemical bonds and charge transfer, on the fragmentation following multiple ionization of the molecule. To provide time resolution, we performed femtosecond-resolved X-ray pump/X-ray probe measurements, which were accompanied by advanced simulations. The simulations and experiment reveal that despite substantial ionization induced by the ultrashort (20 fs) X-ray pump pulse, the fragmentation of C60 is considerably delayed. This work uncovers the persistence of the molecular structure of C60, which hinders fragmentation over a timescale of hundreds of femtoseconds. Furthermore, we demonstrate that a substantial fraction of the ejected fragments are neutral carbon atoms. These findings provide insights into X-ray free-electron laser-induced radiation damage in large molecules, including biomolecules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1279-1283
Number of pages5
JournalNature Physics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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