In the last decade attosecond technology has opened up the investigation of ultrafast electronic processes in atoms, simple molecules and solids. Here we report the application of isolated attosecond pulses to prompt ionization of the amino acid phenylalanine, and the subsequent detection of ultrafast dynamics on a sub-4.5-fs temporal scale, which is shorter than the vibrational response of the molecule. The ability to initiate and observe such electronic dynamics in polyatomic molecules represents a crucial step forward in attosecond science, which is progressively moving towards the investigation of more and more complex systems.
Calegari, F., Ayuso, D., Trabattoni, A., Belshaw, L., De Camillis, S., Anumula, S., Frassetto, F., Poletto, L., Palacios, A., Decleva, P., Greenwood, J., Martin, F., & Nisoli, M. (2014). Ultrafast Electron Dynamics in Phenylalanine Initiated by Attosecond Pulses. Science, 346(6207), 336-339. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1254061