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Ultra-Short Quantum Dynamics

In chemical reactions, molecules form or break on a time-scale of femtoseconds. The underlying electronic motion proceeds on an even shorter time-scale of attoseconds and is governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. In a unique combination of novel many-particle imaging techniques ("Reaction Microscopes") with femto- to attosecond pulses produced by femtosecond lasers as well as by multiply charged ion beams at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) and GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung (GSI), ultra-short quantum dynamics can be ex­plored on a hitherto unreachable level of precision and completeness. In the future, we seek to resolve, understand, and control increasingly complex scenarios including chemical and biologi­cal quantum dynamics. Experiments at the new European XFEL shall further supplement the applica­tions for biological systems. On the theoretical side, related quantum dynamics of single atoms, molecules and clusters in interaction with various short-time external fields will be propagated mostly numerically at Heidelberg University and the MPIK. This includes Non-Born-Oppenheimer studies of the inter­play of rotation, vibration and electron dynamics in small molecules, attosecond probing of  vibrational dynamics with high harmonics, interatomic Coulomb decay in clusters and time-dependent density functional approaches for many-particle quantum sys­tems.