Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Temple researcher attempting to create cyclic ozone using ultrafast lasers

02.02.2005


If successful, discovery could play an important role in putting a man on Mars

Robert Levis, Ph.D. (center), Director of the Center for Advanced Photonics Research, demonstrates the ultrafast laser beams used to detect the cyclic ozone reaction product. Assisting Levis are (L-R) Alexei Filin, Ph.D.; Ryan Compton; and Matthew Coughlan.

With nearly twice the energy of normal, bent-shaped ozone (O3), cyclic ozone could hold the key component for a future manned-mission to Mars. No one has ever seen-let alone made-cyclic ozone. But that could all change at Temple University’s Center for Advanced Photonics Research, which has been awarded a one-year, $1.25 million grant to develop cyclic ozone by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA).



The research is being carried out under the guidance of Center Director Robert J. Levis, Ph.D., a pioneer in strong field, laser-based chemistry and adaptive photonics. Strong field chemistry uses ultrafast lasers to produce intense laser pulses that create tremendous electric fields around a molecule. This forms-for a brief instant in time-a new molecule that chemically can react in new and unexpected ways. Levis and his group began pioneering this revolutionary technology about a decade ago. "The formation of cyclic ozone is a high-risk project," concedes Levis. "No one has ever taken ozone and made the free cyclic form, where every oxygen atom is bound to every other oxygen atom, making it look like an equilateral triangle. "Nobody knows exactly what the molecule looks like spectroscopically or how to make it," he adds. "And that’s exactly the type of high-risk, high-payoff problem that our laser-based technologies can figure out."

Levis points out that the successful production of cyclic ozone could play an important role in putting a human on Mars because rockets could be able to carry one-third more payload. "The bent form of ozone carries about one-and-a-half volts of energy, while cycle ozone carries about three volts," says Levis. "So there’s no more mass, but you can get much more energy when the cyclic ozone combines with hydrogen and is burned. "This is way-over-the-horizon research," he adds. "But if you can produce cyclic ozone, that might be a key component to interplanetary space exploration."

Because cyclic ozone has never before been characterized, Levis and the Temple researchers-Dmitri Romanov of physics and Spiridoula Matsika of chemistry-are relying exclusively on an evolutionary search strategy theory to help them synthesize the molecule using ultrafast lasers. Researchers from the chemistry and chemical engineering departments at Princeton University and the mathematics department at Yale University have been subcontracted by Levis to assist in the development of the search theory.

The Center for Advanced Photonics Research (www.temple.edu/capr) is focused on developing new science and technologies through intense laser-molecule interactions. The center has three of the most powerful laser systems on the East Coast each with a laser pulse shaping capabilities. Research ranges from probing fundamental physics principles to detecting chemical warfare agents. "One of the aspects that DARPA finds fascinating is that these shaped reagents have what’s called a massive ’search space,’" says Levis. "The ’search space’ is huge, something like 1040 (ten to the fortieth power) possibilities, more than the number of stars in the universe. There are an incredible number of paths we can take to find cyclic ozone and we have to search through them somehow."

Levis equates the size of the search space to the variability in the human genome, composed of four distinct bases strung in a genome containing roughly three billion bases. "That’s four to the three billionth different ways you can arrange those four bases," he says. "And yet, humans have evolved into an extremely complex organism."

The question is how did this organization occur, and Levis answers by saying that evolution, or Mother Nature, has an excellent search strategy. "What we’ve managed to do here at the center is take that evolutionary search strategy and put it into an experimental, chemical situation," he says. "It’s an experimentalist’s dream. We have a target molecule that’s never been made before, and we’re going to try to make it with technology that is right on the horizon, and we’re going to detect it relying on calculations that are state-of-the-art."

Levis says his team, which also includes chemist Herschel Rabitz and chemical engineer Yannis Kevrekidis from Princeton and mathematician Raphy Coiffman from Yale, will be making only a small amount of cyclic ozone, since his laser-rigs would not be capable of mass-producing it. "This laser system will only produce micro-grams, which won’t power the Space Shuttle," he says. "But once we’ve made even a little, other scientists and chemical engineers can study it, learn more about the potential energy surface and chemical reactivity, and possibly find a way to reverse engineer a catalyst to produce it in mass quantities." Preston Moretz, Science Writer, 02.01.05

Preston M. Moretz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.temple.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>