First direct look at how light excites electrons to kick off a chemical reaction

Photoabsorption is a fundamental process that leads to changes in the electron density in matter. Working with scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Haiwang Yong, Prof. Peter Weber, et al show the first direct measurement of the distribution of electron density when a molecule is excited by pulsed UV radiation and probed by a time delayed X-ray pulse generated at LCLS. Since light-driven reactions are at the heart of human vision, photosynthesis and solar power generation, seeing the very first step now opens the door to observing chemical bonds forming and breaking. Read the entire article in the SLAC news. The original paper can be seen in the May 1st edition of Nature Communications.