Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ultrashort light pulse blazes new paths for science, industry

03.05.2007
Researchers in Italy have created an ultrashort light pulse—a single isolated burst of extreme-ultraviolet light that lasts for only 130 attoseconds (billionths of a billionth of a second).

Their achievement currently represents the shortest artificial light pulse that has been reported in a refereed journal. Shining this ultrashort light pulse on atoms and molecules can reveal new details of their inner workings—providing benefits to fundamental science as well as potential industrial applications such as better controlling chemical reactions. Working at Italy's National Laboratory for Ultrafast and Ultraintense Optical Science in Milan (as well as laboratories in Padua and Naples), the researchers believe that their current technique will allow them to create even shorter pulses well below 100 attoseconds. Results will be presented in Baltimore at CLEO/QELS, May 6 – May 11.

Whereas humans perceive the world in terms of seconds and minutes, the electrons in atoms and molecules often perform actions on attosecond time scales. How short is this? 130 attoseconds is to one second as a second is to approximately 243 million years—roughly the time that has passed since the first dinosaurs walked the Earth. Aiming a human-made attosecond-scale light pulse on atoms and molecules can trigger new effects in electrons—which are responsible for all chemical reactions—and provide new details on how they work.

In previous experiments, longer pulses, in the higher hundreds of attoseconds, have been created, and the general process is the same. An intense infrared laser strikes a jet of gas, usually argon or neon. The laser’s powerful electric fields rock the electrons back and forth, causing them to release a train of attosecond pulses consisting of high-energy photons in the extreme ultraviolet or soft x-ray part of the spectrum.

Creating a single isolated attosecond pulse, rather than a train of them, is more complex. To do this, the researchers employ their previously developed technique for delivering intense short (5 femtoseconds, or millionths of a billionth of a second) laser pulses to an argon gas target. They use additional optical techniques (including ones borrowed from the research that won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics) for creating and shaping a single attosecond pulse. These isolated attosecond pulses promise to probe electron phenomena such as "wavepackets"—specially tailored electron waves inside atoms and molecules that may help scientists use lasers to change the course of chemical reactions for scientific and practical uses, such as controlling the breaking of bonds in complex molecules for medical and pharmaceutical applications.

Colleen Morrison | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osa.org
http://www.cleoconference.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Pulses of electrons manipulate nanomagnets and store information
21.07.2017 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion
21.07.2017 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

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: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>