Theory and Simulation of Ultrafast Multidimensional Nonlinear X‐ray Spectroscopy of Molecules

Emerging X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) beam sources offer new types of probes of matter with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions. These experimental advances must be met by robust theoretical and computational tools that provide predictive modeling capacity of the underlining electronic and structural dynamics. The latter will be essential for the design of sophisticated multi-pulse experiments and for their interpretation. The proposed research effort will focus on developing cutting- edge simulation tools for nonlinear multidimensional X-ray/optical spectroscopies and aims to address key questions in Priority Research Opportunities 1 (Probing and controlling electron motion within a molecule) and 3 (Capturing rare events and intermediate states in the transformation of matter) as mentioned in the BES Roundtable Report “Opportunities for Basic Research at the Frontiers of XFEL Ultrafast Science”. XFEL multidimensional nonlinear techniques, which combine sequences of X-ray and possibly optical pulses, provide a unique experimental toolbox for probing the dynamics of core and valence electronic excitations, as well as material structure.

Predictive modeling of these dynamical processes requires the combination of analytical theory for nonlinear interactions of light and matter, robust quantum-chemical methodologies for the accurate description of electronic structure of various materials, and multiscale ab initio electron and nuclear dynamics techniques operating beyond Born-Oppenheimer approximation.These challenges will be addressed with three research thrusts (i) Develop and implement theoretical apparatus for modeling a broad range of multidimensional spectroscopic techniques enabled by present and upcoming XFEL facilities. This thrust also includes  the incorporation of a computational module in the DOE supported open-source NWChem computational chemistry package as well as the development of other open-source codes ready for dissemination across a broad user base; (ii) Propose and design new multi-pulse experiments that make use of the capabilities of the incoming LCLS-II facility; (iii) Perform selected applications to specific molecular systems that can be carried out at LCLS-II and demonstrate how these X-ray sources may be used to study nonadiabatic dynamics through conical interactions, electronic correlations in multi-core excitons, and charge transfer/energy transfer processes.

The proposed research will be carried out by a multi-disciplinary four-institution research team which combines academia and national laboratories and spans the broad and necessary expertise in theoretical spectroscopy, nonlinear optics, quantum chemistry, molecular non-adiabatic dynamics and code development. The work will be performed in a highly interactive team environment with junior researchers shared between institutions thus cementing cross-disciplinary interactions. The developed simulation tools will be immediately deployed for XFEL facility users, both experimentalists and theorists, via freely distributed codes and databases. Altogether, this project will facilitate establishing XFEL-based multidimensional spectroscopies as a novel diagnostic tool for monitoring electronic and structural dynamics in molecular materials.    

Project duration
1/9/2018 – 31/8/2021

Responsabile locale
Prof. Marco Garavelli

Prof. Shaul Mukamel, University of California, Irvine (Principle Investigator)


  • Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna, Italy
  • University of California, Irvine, USA
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA

Contribution: $ 900.000,00