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An international team of researchers has demonstrated a novel method for studying the microscopic structure of chemical bonds, the valence electron density of crystals, and light-matter interactions at the atomic scale resolution, with synchrotron radiation. The goal of the work was to develop a technique that provides spectroscopic and structural information on valence electrons in a single measurement, this new approach enables the measurements of atomic scale interactions of valence electrons, providing access to microscopic scale effects.
The understanding of the interactions of valence electrons with light, and with each other, is essential for the understanding of many phenomena in physics, chemistry, and biology. However, although optical radiation has been extensively used to study the properties of valence electrons, optical radiation spectroscopy methods do not provide atomic scale information due to their long wavelengths. While X-ray Bragg diffraction can reveal structural information at the atomic scale, those types of experiments cannot provide spectroscopic information on valence electrons. Thus, the understating of the microscopic nature of valence electron interactions remains a great challenge.
Nonlinear interactions of X-rays and long wavelengths can provide insight into the microscopic structure of chemical bonds, the valence electron density of crystals, and light-matter interactions at the atomic scale resolution1. In essence, the high resolution stems from the short wavelengths of X-rays, whereas the long wavelength field is used to probe the interactions with the valence electrons. The effect could be considered as X-ray diffraction from optically modulated charge densities. In analogy to Bragg diffraction, the atomic scale resolution can be achieved by measuring the intensities for different atomic planes but, in contrast to Bragg diffraction, in the nonlinear process the intensity is proportional to the Fourier coefficient of the valence electrons, and not to the coefficient of the core electrons.
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