Femtosecond photoexcitation dynamics inside a quantum solvent

Bernhard Thaler, Sascha Ranftl, Pascal Heim, Stefan Cesnik, Leonhard Treiber, Ralf Meyer, Andreas W. Hauser, Wolfgang E. Ernst, Markus Koch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The observation of chemical reactions on the time scale of the motion of electrons and nuclei has been made possible by lasers with ever shortened pulse lengths. Superfluid helium represents a special solvent that permits the synthesis of novel classes of molecules that have eluded dynamical studies so far. However, photoexcitation inside this quantum solvent triggers a pronounced response of the solvation shell, which is not well understood. Here, we present a mechanistic description of the solvent response to photoexcitation of indium (In) dopant atoms inside helium nanodroplets (HeN), obtained from femtosecond pump–probe spectroscopy and time-dependent density functional theory simulations. For the In–HeN system, part of the excited state electronic energy leads to expansion of the solvation shell within 600 fs, initiating a collective shell oscillation with a period of about 30 ps. These coupled electronic and nuclear dynamics will be superimposed on intrinsic photoinduced processes of molecular systems inside helium droplets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4006
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this