Molecular alignment induced by ultrashort laser pulses and its impact on molecular motion

Sharly Fleischer, Yuri Khodorkovsky*, Erez Gershnabel, Yehiam Prior, Ilya Sh Averbukh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Spectroscopy aims at extracting information about matter through its interaction with light. However, when performed on gas and liquid phases as well as solid phases lacking long-range order, the extracted spectroscopic features are in fact averaged over the molecular isotropic angular distributions. The reason is that light-matter processes depend on the angle between the transitional molecular dipole and the polarization of the light interacting with it. This understanding gave birth to the constantly expanding field of "laser-induced molecular alignment". In this paper, we attempt to guide the readers through our involvement (both experimental and theoretical) in this field in the last few years. We start with the basic phenomenon of molecular alignment induced by a single pulse, continue with selective alignment of close molecular species and unidirectional molecular rotation induced by two time-delayed pulses, and lead up to novel schemes for manipulating the spatial distributions of molecular samples through rotationally controlled scattering off inhomogeneous fields and surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-437
Number of pages24
JournalIsrael Journal of Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • control of molecular rotation and motion
  • femtosecond laser pulses
  • molecular alignment
  • rotational spectroscopy


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