Taking snapshots of photoexcited molecules in disordered media by using pulsed synchrotron X-rays

Lin X. Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Photoexcited molecules are quintessential reactants in photochemistry. Structures of these photoexcited molecules in disordered media in which a majority of photochemical reactions take place remained elusive for decades owing to a lack of suitable X-ray sources, despite their importance in understanding fundamental aspects in photochemistry. As new pulsed X-ray sources become available, short-lived excited-state molecular structures in disordered media can now be captured by using laser-pulse pump, X-ray pulse-probe techniques of third-generation synchrotron sources with time resolutions of 30-100 ps, as demonstrated by examples in this review. These studies provide unprecedented information on structural origins of molecular properties in the excited states. By using other ultrafast X-ray facilities that will be completed in the near future, time-resolution for the excited-state structure measurements should reach the femtosecond timescales, which will make "molecular movies" of bond breaking or formation, and vibrational relaxation, a reality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2886-2905
Number of pages20
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 24 2004


  • Excited-state structures
  • Laser spectroscopy
  • Synchrotron radiation
  • X-ray absorption spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Catalysis


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