Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Laser pulses: conductors for protons

13.05.2016

Using ultrashort laser pulses an international team at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich has managed to manipulate the positions of atoms in hydrocarbon molecules.

Light can conduct the play of atoms and molecules in the microcosm. Humans manage to interfere with this play. Researchers from the Laboratory of Attosecond Physics (LAP) of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) and from the Department of Chemistry at the LMU have now used light to reconfigure hydrocarbons. Using ultrashort laser pulses they removed an outer hydrogen atom from one side of a hydrocarbon molecule and directed it to the opposite side, where it reattached. The method could be used in the future to synthesize new substances by controlling chemical reactions.


Laser physicists steer atoms in molecules with light: A laser pulse removed an outer hydrogen atom from one side of a hydrocarbon molecule and directed it to the opposite side, where it rebounded.

Image: Alexander Gelin

Everything in these experiments happens unbelievably fast – within just a few millionths of a billionth of a second. An ultrashort laser pulse hits an acetylene molecule. The symmetric, linear hydrocarbon molecule with one hydrogen atom on each outer side starts to wobble, and is ionized, causing the molecule to become aligned within the laser field. On an extremely short timescale, a hydrogen atom on one side detaches and migrates to the other side, where it rebinds.

The researchers from the Laboratory of Attosecond Physics at MPQ and LMU, and from the Department of Chemistry at LMU, were able to control the directionality of this reaction. The experimental observations and their underlying mechanisms were elucidated by quantum-mechanical simulations performed in Prof. Regina de Vivie-Riedle’s group. Using laser pulses lasting only a few femtoseconds, the physicists influenced the vibrations of the acetylene molecules in such a way that they could selectively remove a particular hydrogen atom from either the left or right side of the molecule.

The hydrogen atom then spontaneously migrated across the molecule to the other side, resulting in the formation and release of the chemical vinylidene. The researchers have also used the technique to reconfigure allene, a larger molecule belonging to the same group of hydrocarbons as acetylene. In doing so, they demonstrated that their method also worked for hydrocarbons with longer chain lengths.

Motions of electrons and atoms are fundamental to chemical processes in nature. With laser technology, researchers are developing ways to influence these motions. “Our experiments have shown that we are not only able to direct electrons in the microcosm, but also hydrogen atoms, which are about 2000-times heavier”, says Prof. Matthias Kling, the leader of the Ultrafast Nanophotonics group at the LAP. “In both cases it is the wave nature of the controlled particles that is responsible for the underlying mechanism“, as Prof. de Vivie-Riedle explains.

The researchers have thus reconfigured matter with the aid of light in their experiment. “We hope that we will be able to take apart various kinds of substances in the future and put them back together at will”, says Kling. Such a light-driven mode of chemical synthesis could help to fabricate new substances in the future. This prospect is particularly appealing in medicine and the design of new drugs. Thorsten Naeser

Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
Further information:
http://www.mpq.mpg.de/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems
08.12.2016 | Nagoya Institute of Technology

nachricht Will Earth still exist 5 billion years from now?
08.12.2016 | KU Leuven

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>