Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Can ultrashort electron flashes help harvest nuclear energy?

13.07.2018

The lab of Fabrizio Carbone at EPFL and their international colleagues have used ultrafast Transmission Electron Microscopy to take attosecond energy-momentum resolved snapshots (1 attosecond = 10-18 or quintillionths of a second) of a free-electron wave function. Though unprecedented in itself, the scientists also used their experimental success to develop a theory of how to create electron flashes within zeptosecond (10-21 of a second) timeframes, using already existing technology. This breakthrough could allow physicists to increase the energy yield of nuclear reactions using coherent control methods, which relies on the manipulation of quantum interference effects with lasers and which has already helped advance fields like spectroscopy, quantum information processing, and laser cooling.

In fact, one of the most elusive phenomena in physics is the excitation of an atom's nucleus by absorption of an electron. The process, known as "nuclear excitation by electron capture" (NEEC), was theoretically predicted fourty years ago, though it proved difficult to observe experimentally.


A video illustrating the experiments and findings of this study.

Credit: Fabrizio Carbone/EPFL

But in February 2018, US physicists were finally able to catch a glimpse of NEEC in the lab. The work was hailed as ushering in new nuclear energy-harvesting systems, as well as explaining why certain elements like gold and platinum are so abundant in the universe.

The EPFL researchers in their publication suggest a way of potentially exploiting the several orders of magnitude in energy harvesting possibly present in the nucleus of an atom via the coherent control of the NEEC effect. Such method would be enabled by the availability of ultrashort (as to zs) electron flashes.

"Ideally, one would like to induce instabilities in an otherwise stable or metastable nucleus to prompt energy-producing decays, or to generate radiation," says Carbone. "However, accessing nuclei is difficult and energetically costly because of the protective shell of electrons surrounding it."

The authors state: "Our coherent control scheme with ultrashort electron pulses would offer a new perspective for the manipulation of nuclear reactions with potential implications in various fields, from fundamental physics to energy-related applications."

###

Other contributors

Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
University of Glasgow
Ripon College (US)
The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology
Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA)

Reference

G. M. Vanacore, I. Madan, G. Berruto, K. Wang, E. Pomarico, R. J. Lamb, D. McGrouther, I. Kaminer, B. Barwick, F. Javier García de Abajo, F. Carbone. Attosecond coherent control of free-electron wave functions using semi-infinite light fields. Nature Communications 12 July 2018. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05021-x

Media Contact

Nik Papageorgiou
n.papageorgiou@epfl.ch
41-216-932-105

 @EPFL_en

http://www.epfl.ch/index.en.html 

Nik Papageorgiou | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Heat flow through single molecules detected
19.07.2019 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

nachricht Better thermal conductivity by adjusting the arrangement of atoms
19.07.2019 | Universität Basel

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: Better thermal conductivity by adjusting the arrangement of atoms

Adjusting the thermal conductivity of materials is one of the challenges nanoscience is currently facing. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Spain, researchers from the University of Basel have shown that the atomic vibrations that determine heat generation in nanowires can be controlled through the arrangement of atoms alone. The scientists will publish the results shortly in the journal Nano Letters.

In the electronics and computer industry, components are becoming ever smaller and more powerful. However, there are problems with the heat generation. It is...

Im Focus: First-ever visualizations of electrical gating effects on electronic structure

Scientists have visualised the electronic structure in a microelectronic device for the first time, opening up opportunities for finely-tuned high performance electronic devices.

Physicists from the University of Warwick and the University of Washington have developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in...

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Heat flow through single molecules detected

19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Heat transport through single molecules

19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Welcome Committee for Comets

19.07.2019 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>