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Song, Qiying; Li, Zhichao; Cui, Sen; Lu, Peifen; Gong, Xiaochun; Ji, Qinying; Lin, Kang; Zhang, Wenbin; Ma, Junyang; Pan, Haifeng; Ding, Jingxin; Kling, Matthias F.; Zeng, Heping; He, Feng and Wu, Jian (2016): Disentangling the role of laser coupling in directional breaking of molecules. In: Physical Review A, Vol. 94, No. 5, 53419

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The directional control of molecular dissociation with a laser electric field waveform is a paradigm and was demonstrated for a variety of molecules. In most cases, the directional control occurs via a dissociative ionization pathway. The role of laser-induced coupling of electronic states in the dissociating ion versus selective ionization of oriented neutral molecules, however, could not be distinguished for even small heteronuclear molecules such as CO. Here, we introduce a technique, using elliptically polarized pump and linearly polarized two-color probe pulses, that unambiguously distinguishes the roles of laser-induced state coupling and selective ionization. The measured photoelectron momentum distributions governed by the light polarizations allow us to coincidentally identify the ionization and dissociation from the pump and probe pulses. Directional dissociation of CO+ as a function of the relative phase of the linearly polarized two-color pulse is observed for both parallel and orthogonally oriented molecules. We find that the laser-induced coupling of various electronic states of CO+ plays an important role for the observed directional bond breaking, which is verified by quantum calculations.

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