J Chem Phys. 2023 Sep 28;159(12):124101. doi: 10.1063/5.0160631.
Ultrafast spectroscopy is a powerful technique that utilizes short pulses on the femtosecond time scale to generate and probe coherent responses in molecular systems. While the specific ultrafast methodologies vary, the most common data analysis tools rely on discrete Fourier transformation for recovering coherences that report on electronic or vibrational states and multi-exponential fitting for probing population dynamics, such as excited-state relaxation. These analysis tools are widely used due to their perceived reliability in estimating frequencies and decay rates. Here, we demonstrate that such “black box” methods for parameter estimation often lead to inaccurate results even in the absence of noise. To address this issue, we propose an alternative approach based on Bayes probability theory that simultaneously accounts for both population and coherence contributions to the signal. This Bayesian inference method offers accurate parameter estimations across a broad range of experimental conditions, including scenarios with high noise and data truncation. In contrast to traditional methods, Bayesian inference incorporates prior information about the measured signal and noise, leading to improved accuracy. Moreover, it provides estimator error bounds, enabling a systematic statistical framework for interpreting confidence in the results. By employing Bayesian inference, all parameters of a realistic model system may be accurately recovered, even in extremely challenging scenarios where Fourier and multi-exponential fitting methods fail. This approach offers a more reliable and comprehensive analysis tool for time-resolved coherent spectroscopy, enhancing our understanding of molecular systems and enabling a better interpretation of experimental data.