The interaction of light with molecular systems is at the basis of a large number of biologically relevant processes, such as photosynthesis, DNA radiation damage, photoprotection or cellular respiration. On the other hand, the ionization or excitation of a polyatomic molecule by high-energy photons triggers ultrafast electronic motions along the molecular backbone, occurring on a time scale from few femtoseconds down to hundreds of attoseconds. The interplay between this electron motion and the nuclear response of the molecule is a hot-topic of ultrafast molecular physics. At the same time, the aim of controlling the chemical properties of a molecule through the electronic degrees of freedom represents the Holy Grail of attosecond molecular physics.

In this perspective, we focus our research on the investigation of ultrafast electron dynamics in biochemically-relevant molecules, from amino acids to nucleosides, with the aim of extend attosecond technology to investigate photo-induced dynamics in DNA (see STARLIGHT project).

Main collaborators:

  • Fernando Martín (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain)
  • Angel Rubio (Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) & Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Hamburg, Germany)
  • Piero Decleva (Università di Trieste, Trieste, Italy)
  • Jason Greenwood (Queen’s University Belfast, UK)
  • Mauro Nisoli (Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy)