Laser-induced condensed phase reactions are often interpreted as nonequilibrium phenomena that go beyond conventional thermodynamics. Here, we show by Langevin dynamics and for the example of femtosecond-laser desorption of hydrogen from a ruthenium surface that light adsorbates thermalize rapidly due to ultrafast energy redistribution after laser excitation. Despite the complex reaction mechanism involving hot electrons in the surface region, all desorption product properties are characterized by equilibrium distributions associated with a single, unique temperature. This represents an example of ultrahot chemistry on the subpicosecond time scale.
The original publication is available by link DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.098303