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Why study laser-matter interactions?

Weak laser fields, which do not substantially alter the structure of matter.  Intense laser fields, on the other hand, are capable of inducing nonlinear responses in molecular potential energy surfaces because the pulse energies are comparable to the binding energies of molecules' valence electrons . As a result, ultrashort laser pulses are an excellent tool for manipulating molecular dynamics. Achieving coherent control of molecular dynamics via ultrashort intense laser pulses is one of the grand challenges of atomic, molecular, and optical physics. 

Why study the dynamics of NO2+ in intense laser fields?

The bulk of research on molecule-laser interaction has focused on the simplest molecule, H2+.  Even for such simple molecules, understanding the molecule's response to the laser field is not an easy task due to the involvement of many vibrational levels, which each respond differently.  For multi-electron molecules, gaining understanding becomes an even more difficult task, due to the complex electronic structure of these molecules.  However, over the past few years, Itzik's group has developed and honed a 3-D imaging technique that has enabled them to deduce the laser-induced dissociation mechanisms of several multi-electron molecular systems, including O2+ , N2+ , ND+, and CO2+.  Experimental studies of dications like NO2+ are relatively rare, and such systems are particularly interesting because despite the strong electrostatic repulsion between the nuclei, unusual bonding properties allow them them to exist as metastable states, which have finite lifetimes.