Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters

Attosecond Pump-Probe Spectroscopy of Charge Dynamics in Tryptophan

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Attosecond pump-probe experiments performed in small molecules have allowed tracking charge dynamics in the natural time scale of electron motion. That this is also possible in biologically relevant molecules is still a matter of debate, because the large number of available nuclear degrees of freedom might destroy the coherent charge dynamics induced by the attosecond pulse. Here we investigate extreme ultraviolet-induced charge dynamics in the amino acid tryptophan. We find that, although nuclear motion and nonadiabatic effects introduce some decoherence in the moving electron wave packet, these do not significantly modify the coherence induced by the attosecond pulse during the early stages of the dynamics, at least for molecules in their equilibrium geometry. Our conclusions are based on elaborate theoretical calculations and the experimental observation of sub-4 fs dynamics, which can only be reasonably assigned to electronic motion. Hence, attosecond pump-probe spectroscopy appears as a promising approach to induce and image charge dynamics in complex molecules.