Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Making the shortest light bursts leads to better understanding of nature

An attosecond is a ridiculously brief sliver of time – a scant billionth of a billionth of a second. This may seem too short to have any practical applications, but at the atomic level, where electrons zip and jump about, these vanishingly short timescales are crucial to a deeper understanding of science.

In a paper accepted for publication in the American Institute of Physics' journal Review of Scientific Instruments, a team of researchers describes an advanced experimental system that can generate attosecond bursts of extreme ultraviolet light. Such pulses are the shortest controllable light pulses available to science.

With these pulses, according to the researchers, it's possible to measure the dynamics of electrons in matter in real-time. Advances in attosecond science may enable scientists to verify theories that describe how matter behaves at a fundamental level, how certain important chemical reactions – such as photosynthesis – work. Additional advances may eventually lead to the control of chemical reactions.

"Understanding how matter works at the level of its electrons is likely to lead to new scientific tools and to novel technologies," said Felix Frank, of Imperial College in London and one of the authors on the paper. "In the future, this knowledge could help us to make better drugs, more efficient solar cells, and other things we can't yet foresee."

The researchers were able to produce these pulses by a process called high harmonic generation (HHG). The fundamental technology driving their setup is a high-power femtosecond laser system (femtoseconds are three orders of magnitude longer than attoseconds). The near infrared femtosecond laser pulses are corralled through a waveguide and a series of specialized mirrors, causing them to be compressed in time. With their waveforms precisely controlled, these compressed pulses are then focused into a gas target, creating an attosecond burst of extreme ultraviolet radiation.

The experimental system developed by the researchers is able to accurately measure the attosecond pulses and deliver them to a variety of experiments in conjugation with other precisely synchronized laser pulses. "Though it incorporates many novel features, our system builds on a decade of research conducted by physics groups around the world," said John Tisch, lead scientist developing the technology at Imperial College.

Charles E. Blue | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Imperial chemical reaction femtosecond laser laser pulses

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>