Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists capture the speediest ever motion in a molecule

03.03.2006


The fastest ever observations of protons moving within a molecule open a new window on fundamental processes in chemistry and biology, researchers report today in the journal Science.



Their capturing of the movements of the lightest and therefore speediest components of a molecule will allow scientists to study molecular behaviour previously too fast to be detected. It gives a new in-depth understanding of how molecules behave in chemical processes, providing opportunities for greater study and control of molecules, including the organic molecules that are the building blocks of life.

The high speed at which protons can travel during chemical reactions means their motion needs to be measured in units of time called ’attoseconds’, with one attosecond equating to one billion-billionth of a second. The team’s observation of proton motion with an accuracy of 100 attoseconds in hydrogen and methane molecules is the fastest ever recorded. Dr John Tisch of Imperial College London says:


"Slicing up a second into intervals as miniscule as 100 attoseconds, as our new technique enables us to do, is extremely hard to conceptualise. It’s like chopping up the 630 million kilometres from here to Jupiter into pieces as wide as a human hair."

Professor Jon Marangos, Director of the Blackett Laboratory Laser Consortium at Imperial, says this new technique means scientists will now be able to measure and control the ultra-fast dynamics of molecules. He says:

"Control of this kind underpins an array of future technologies, such as control of chemical reactions, quantum computing and high brightness x-ray light sources for material processing. We now have a much clearer insight into what is happening within molecules and this allows us to carry out more stringent testing of theories of molecular structure and motion. This is likely to lead to improved methods of molecular synthesis and the nano-fabrication of a new generation of materials."

Lead author Dr Sarah Baker of Imperial College believes that the technique is also exciting because of its experimental simplicity. She says:

"We are very excited by these results, not only because we have ’watched’ motion occurring faster than was previously possible, but because we have achieved this using a compact and simple technique that will make such study accessible to scientists around the world."

To make this breakthrough, scientists used a specially built laser system capable of producing extremely brief pulses of light. This pulsed light has an oscillating electrical field that exerts a powerful force on the electrons surrounding the protons, repeatedly tearing them from the molecule and driving them back into it.

This process causes the electrons to carry a large amount of energy, which they release as an x-ray photon before returning to their original state. How bright this x-ray is depends on how far the protons move in the time between the electrons’ removal and return. The further the proton moves, the lower the intensity of the x-ray, allowing the team to measure how far a proton has moved during the electron oscillation period.

Abigail Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.imperial.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

nachricht What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto

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: 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,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

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

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>