Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Faster than ever seen before – speeding electrons will be snapped by new UK attosecond ‘camera’

16.01.2003


Ultrafast lasers helping to make some of the shortest pulses of light ever seen in the UK will be at the heart of a new system to capture the movements of electrons as they whizz around the nucleus of atoms.



A UKP3.5 million research grant from the UK Research Councils’ Basic Technology Programme announced today has been awarded to a team of scientists to develop and build the first attosecond laser system capable of freeze-framing and controlling the motion of electrons.

Researchers hope that the attosecond system will reveal fundamental insights into atomic behaviour and may eventually lead to new applications in molecular and surface sciences, nano-scale and biological structures.


Because electrons are so light they move extremely quickly and their motion is measured in units of time called attoseconds. One attosecond is one billion-billionth of a second, and an electron orbits a hydrogen atom in just 24 attoseconds, or 24 billion-billionths of a second.

To capture the electron in motion the researchers will build a system to produce pulses of light lasting attoseconds. These pulses will then be strobed on to atoms in order to ‘freeze’ their electrons in motion.

“If you want to see a bullet ripping through a tomato you need to have a microsecond strobe to freeze the motion of the projectile,” said Dr John Tisch, Project Manager based at Imperial College London. “We want to see electron motion and for that we need attosecond resolution. Without attosecond probes, the electron motion would be just a ‘blur’.”

Electrons are behind all the fundamental processes in chemistry, biology and material sciences as they make all the ‘bonds’ in matter, joining atoms together to form larger systems like molecules.

“Changes in materials - be they molecules, solids or living tissue - can all be traced back to rearrangement of these bonding electrons,” said Professor Jon Marangos, Project Coordinator based at Imperial. “Attosecond pulses will give us the ability, for the first time, to measure and probe these very fast changes and shed new light on the dynamic processes that occur on this unexplored timescale.”

Currently the shortest measured laser pulse is around 4 femtoseconds (4000 attoseconds) and the shortest light pulses measured are around 600 attoseconds.

The planned length of the pulses in the UK attosecond system, generated using a technique known as high harmonic generation, will be about 200 attoseconds.

The award is made to a collaboration of groups led by Dr Tisch and Professor Marangos from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London.

The group comprises researchers from Imperial, Kings College London, and the universities of Oxford, Reading, Birmingham, Newcastle and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire.

The groups will each build separate components and the final working system will be assembled and operated at Imperial College by 2005.

In total over 30 scientists are expected to contribute to the project, which will last for four years.

The overall cost of the project is UKP3.5 million, approximately half to be spent on equipment and half for research staff.

Tom Miller | alfa

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Spintronics: Researchers show how to make non-magnetic materials magnetic
06.08.2020 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Manifestation of quantum distance in flat band materials
05.08.2020 | Institute for Basic Science

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: ScanCut project completed: laser cutting enables more intricate plug connector designs

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.

Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?

06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

Anode material for safe batteries with a long cycle life

06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

06.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>