Nuclear Fluxes in Diatomic Molecules Deduced from Pump-Probe Spectra with Spatiotemporal Resolutions down to 5 pm and 200 asec
Manz, Jörn and Pérez-Torres, Jhon F. and Yang,Yonggang – 2013
When molecules move, their nuclei flow. The corresponding quantum observable, i.e., the nuclear flux density, was introduced by Schrödinger in 1926, but until now, it has not been measured. Here the first experimental results are deduced from high-resolution pump-probe measurements of the time-dependent nuclear densities in a vibrating diatomic molecule or molecular ion. The nuclear densities are converted to flux densities by means of the continuity equation. The flux densities are much more sensitive to time-dependent quantum effects than the densities. Applications to the sodium molecule and the deuterium molecular ion unravel four new effects; e.g., at the turns from bond stretch to compression, the flux of the nuclei exhibits multiple changes of directions, from small to large bond lengths, a phenomenon that we call the “quantum accordion."