Three-body Coulomb explosion of formaldehyde (H2CO) in intense 7- and 35-fs laser fields (1.3 × 1015 W/cm2) has been investigated by using ion-coincidence momentum imaging technique. Two types of explosion pathways from the triply charged state, H2CO3+ → (i) H+ + H+ + CO+ and (ii) H+ + CH+ + O+, have been identified. It is shown from the momentum correlation of the fragment ions of pathway (i), that the geometrical structure of the molecule is essentially frozen along the H-C-H bending coordinate for the 7-fs case. On the other hand, for a longer pulse duration (35 fs), structural deformation along the C-H stretching and H-C-H bending coordinates is identified, which is ascribed to the nuclear dynamics in the dication states populated within the laser pulse duration.

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