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.
Significantly more productivity in USP lasers
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore
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:...
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...
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...
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...
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,...
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07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine