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Journal Article

Interference in the molecular photoionization and Young's double-slit experiment


Becker,  Uwe
Molecular Physics, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Baltenkov, A. S., Becker, U., Manson, S. T., & Msezane, A. Z. (2012). Interference in the molecular photoionization and Young's double-slit experiment. Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, 45(3): 035202. doi:10.1088/0953-4075/45/3/035202.

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The photoabsorption by an electron bound by a two-centre potential has been investigated within the framework of the zero-range potential model. Expressions for total photoabsorption cross sections and for the photoelectron angular distributions have been derived for fixed-in-space and randomly oriented targets. The analytical formulae for gerade and ungerade molecular states have been used to analyse separately the molecular effects due to the two-centre ground state of quasi-molecule and diffraction effects that are connected with the spherical waves in the molecular continuum. It is shown that the interference of these waves significantly influences the magnitude of the cross sections near threshold but does not significantly distort the shape of the photoelectron angular distribution and it depends rather weakly on the character of the forces acting between the electron and molecular residue: Coulomb forces for neutral molecular photoionization or the short-range forces in the case of photodetachment of molecular negative ions. It is shown that despite the fact that the photoionization of diatomic molecules is reminiscent of Young's double-slit experiment, the similarity between these processes has been grossly exaggerated. This is confirmed by comparing the results of the classical interference of an electron scattered by two spatially separated centres with molecular photoelectron angular distributions.