Schematic of i-TOF configuration
Figure 1. Schematic of i-TOF configuration. (a) A SIMION representation of the i-TOF spectrometer, (b) and (c) show the plates with special cutouts placed around the interaction region.
We investigate the multiphoton ionization and the subsequent fragmentation of SF6 molecules with intense x-ray-free electron laser pulses at different photon energies. We observe highly charged molecular and atomic ions which were absent in previous experiments with conventional x-ray sources. The observation of fully stripped fluorine ions suggests sequential multiphoton ionization processes with intermediate 1s electron excitation. We measure the average momentum and kinetic energy of each fragment, the comparison of which implies many-body fragmentation pathways of the molecular ions. The observed non-monotonic dependence of the kinetic energy on the charge states of fluorine indicates the multiphoton ionization of 'isolated' atomic neutral fluorine or fluorine ions resultant from bond cleavages and also implies the fragmentation of highly charged molecular ions that are produced at a later time during a single pulse.