The study, published in Nature Physics, focused on extremely short laser pulses, less than 10 femtoseconds long - a femtosecond is one million-billionth of a second. These laser pulses can allow scientists to move and control the electrons in atoms and molecules, and to understand, for example, how molecules are formed. To achieve this reliably, the pulse of electromagnetic waves emitted from the laser must be controlled and measured with a precision which, until now, has been very hard to achieve.
The team of physicists from Imperial College London attained an unprecedented level of accurate measurement by firing the femtosecond laser pulse into a sample of gas, which responds by emitting an x-ray pulse which is even shorter in duration - up to 10 times shorter than the original laser pulse. The researchers found that the spectrum of the x-ray pulse has encoded within it all the information necessary to precisely reconstruct the waveform of the original laser pulse. Through careful measurements and some 'intelligent' software designed specifically for this purpose, the researchers were therefore able, for the first time, to measure the waveform of individual femtosecond pulses.
Dr John Tisch, one of the Imperial research team, said: "This measurement technique is so accurate that we can determine the position of a peak in the pulse of electromagnetic waves from the laser with a precision of a mere 0.05 femtoseconds - in other words, 50 attoseconds. Also, the measurement can be made on individual pulses rather than by looking at the average properties of many pulses, so this is an important step forwards."
Dr Tisch explains that not only will this new technique lead to a greater ability to use short laser pulses for accurate sub-atomic level research, but it also sheds new light on the extremely short x-ray pulses emitted in response: "The x-ray pulses we used in the measurement process of our research are of great interest in their own right," he says. "They are on the attosecond timescale, which is even shorter than a femtosecond - just one billion-billionth of a second. They are a new tool for scientists to probe even faster motion than the femtosecond pulses that triggered them."
The research team have recently received a four-year £2.5 million grant from the EPSRC to take this research to the next stage. Professor Jonathan Marangos explains: "Now we've perfected this technique, we are going to look into using our accurate measurements and control of these lasers to manipulate electrons and control quantum processes."
The research was funded by a Basic Technology Programme grant from RCUK.
Laura Gallagher | alfa
First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles
13.07.2018 | Technische Universität München
Simpler interferometer can fine tune even the quickest pulses of light
12.07.2018 | University of Rochester
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
13.07.2018 | Event News
13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
13.07.2018 | Life Sciences