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H atoms in are rearranged by strong optical fields generated by intense 9.3 fs laser pulses to form . This atomic rearrangement is ultrafast: It occurs within a single laser pulse. Quantum-chemical calculations reveal that originates in the state of when the O–H bond elongates to 1.15 a.u. and the H–O–H angle becomes 120°. Bond formation on the ultrafast time scale of molecular vibrations (10 fs for ) and in strong fields has hitherto not been reported.


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