It’s the scientific equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. A team of researchers from JILA, a joint institute of the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado at Boulder, has developed an efficient, low-cost way to measure the energy levels of atoms in a gas with extremely high accuracy, and simultaneously detect and control transitions between the levels as fast as they occur. The technique is expected to have practical applications in many fields including astrophysics, quantum computing, chemical analysis, and chemical synthesis.
Described in the Nov. 18 online issue of Science Express,* the method uses ultrafast pulses of laser light like a high speed movie camera to record in real-time the energy required to boost an atom’s outer electrons from one orbital pattern to another. The pulses are so short that scientists can track precisely the fraction of atoms in each energy state and how those populations change with time. Moreover, the atoms respond to subsequent laser pulses cumulatively--the energy adds up over time--which allows fine-tuning to affect specific orbital patterns of interest with a much lower power laser than usual.
All of chemistry depends on the configurations of these outer electrons. The technique promises to make it easier for scientists to systematically understand the radiation "signatures" (or spectra) given off by atoms and molecules as their electrons jump between different energy levels. Ultimately, it should allow improved control of the complex chain of events that combines atoms into desired compounds.
Laura Ost | EurekAlert!
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Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
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The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
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With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
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An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
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