We investigated the fragmentation dynamics of highly excited states of molecular oxygen using femtosecond transient photoelectron spectroscopy. An extreme ultraviolet (XUV) pulse populates the autoionizing Rydberg series converging to O2+cςu-4, and a femtosecond near-infrared (IR) pulse was used to photoionize these states as they dissociate. Monitoring the differential photoelectron spectra as a function of time delay allowed us to obtain the relaxation lifetimes of these Rydberg states. We observed a photoelectron signal corresponding to the formation of a 4p excited atomic oxygen fragment, which is not an expected dissociation product of the (O2+cςu-4)nlσg Rydberg series. Analysis of the time-dependent photoelectron spectra and photoionization calculations indicate that this fragment results from a previously unexplored (O2+Πg4)4p repulsive state and that, contrary to expectations, this multielectron excitation pathway presents a substantial cross section. Our study demonstrates that two-color time-resolved differential photoelectron spectroscopy is an excellent tool to study the fragmentation dynamics of such multielectron excited states, which are not easily probed by other means.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics