Breakthrough measurement of light affecting individual atoms

Tyndall National Institute and its collaborators are unravelling how atoms vibrate and change when hit with intense bursts of light. The ground-breaking work has been recognised through publication of a paper in Nature Physics. The collaborative research, led at the…

Tyndall National Institute and its collaborators are unravelling how atoms vibrate and change when hit with intense bursts of light. The ground-breaking work has been recognised through publication of a paper in Nature Physics.

The collaborative research, led at the Tyndall National Institute by Prof. Stephen Fahy, is currently using x-ray lasers to investigate how natural vibrations of molecules and solids are excited by intense bursts of light. The x-ray laser generates pulses so short that they can capture a snapshot of the moving atoms in less than a billionth of a billionth of a second, which enables researchers to better understand how individual atoms are affected when light is absorbed.
While current studies focus on movement of atoms in germanium, this is the first time that researchers have been able to look at any material in such detail. As the research progresses, it has the potential to revolutionise the speed and capacity of data transfer through optical fibres on the internet and even unlock how atom-level photosynthesis works, with the possibility for it to be replicated to increase energy storage capacity.
Explaining the significance of their research, Prof. Fahy, Materials Theory Group, Tyndall National Institute said: “Understanding and controlling how light alters the forces between atoms is central to our understanding of photo-chemistry and underpins many areas of energy science, such as photocatalysis. Tyndall and its collaborators are one of only a few groups worldwide with the ability to measure and calculate such atomic motion and we are delighted to have our work recognised by Nature.”
The research paper was co-authored by researchers from SLAC National Research Laboratory, Stanford University, University of Michigan, Oxford University, ETH Zurich, Lund University and the University of Duisburg-Essen under the direction of Prof. David Reis, Stanford University Department of Applied Physics, who was also resident in Tyndall from April to June this year under the SFI Walton Visiting Fellow programme.

Explore further:

Measuring the duration of energetic electron pulses using laser fields

More information: M. Trigo, M. Fuchs, J. Chen, M. P. Jiang, M. Cammarata, S. Fahy, D. M. Fritz, K. Gaffney, S. Ghimire, A. Higginbotham, S. L. Johnson, M. E. Kozina, J. Larsson, H. Lemke, A. M. Lindenberg, G. Ndabashimiye, F. Quirin, K. Sokolowski-Tinten, C. Uher, G. Wang, J. S. Wark, D. Zhu, D. A. Reis.Nature Physics 9, 790–794 (2013) DOI: 10.1038/nphys2788 Received 14 March 2013 Accepted 11 September 2013 Published online 27 October 2013

Journal reference:

Nature Physics

Provided by

Tyndall National Institute

view popular

4.8 /5 (5 votes)

Related Stories

Measuring the duration of energetic electron pulses using laser fields

23 hours ago

A stopwatch made of light can determine the duration of extremely brief electron flashes. Teams based in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) at LMU and at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics …

Elastic to plastic: High-energy lasers warp copper—permanently

Oct 10, 2013

The exact pressure that permanently changes copper crystals has been pinpointed, according to a study released today. The findings, published in the journal Science, show that when copper is compressed the mi …

Behavior of ultra-cold atoms and polar molecules modeled

Nov 26, 2013

Theoretical physicist Ana Maria Rey uses the computer, as well as pencil and paper, to develop mathematical models that describe the behavior of ultra-cold atoms. The idea is to use these systems to learn …

Copper shock: An atomic-scale stress test

Oct 22, 2013

(Phys.org) —Scientists used the powerful X-ray laser at the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to create movies detailing trillionths-of-a-second changes in the arrangement …

Gold nanocrystal vibration captured on billion-frames-per-second film (w/ video)

May 23, 2013

A billon-frames-per-second film has captured the vibrations of gold nanocrystals in stunning detail for the first time.

Giant atom eats quantum gas

Oct 31, 2013

A team of experimental and theoretical physicists from the University of Stuttgart studied a single micrometer sized atom. This atom contains tens of thousands of normal atoms in its electron orbital. These …

Recommended for you

Negative resistivity leads to positive resistance in the presence of a magnetic field

5 hours ago

In a paper appearing in Nature’s Scientific Reports, Dr. Ramesh Mani, professor of physics and astronomy at Georgia State University, reports that, in the presence of a magnetic field, negative resistivity can produce a posi …

Scientists demonstrate quantum phenomenon for the first time using a plastic film

8 hours ago

For the first time, scientists at IBM Research have demonstrated a complex quantum mechanical phenomenon known as Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC), using a luminescent polymer (plastic) similar to the materials …

Secondary ion mass spectrometry for Christmas

Dec 10, 2013

A large wooden crate was delivered to the Compton Hall loading dock Dec. 4, direct from Paris. The crate contained a fabulous new instrument that Washington University in St. Louis scientists say will transform their ability …

Expanding universe can emerge in remarkably simple way, scientists say

Dec 10, 2013

When soup is heated, it starts to boil. When time and space are heated, an expanding universe can emerge, without requiring anything like a “Big Bang”. This phase transition between a boring empty space and …

World’s highest quantum efficiency UV photodetectors developed

Dec 09, 2013

Researchers from Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed the world’s highest quantum efficiency ultraviolet (UV) photodetector, an advance in technology …

Explainer: The difference between radiation and radioactivity

Dec 09, 2013

On the weekend, a tank of radioactive material leaked from the closed Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory. While this has prompted concerns about the health of the surrounding Kakadu National Pa …

User comments : 0

More news stories

Negative resistivity leads to positive resistance in the presence of a magnetic field

In a paper appearing in Nature’s Scientific Reports, Dr. Ramesh Mani, professor of physics and astronomy at Georgia State University, reports that, in the presence of a magnetic field, negative resistivity can produce a posi …

Scientists demonstrate quantum phenomenon for the first time using a plastic film

For the first time, scientists at IBM Research have demonstrated a complex quantum mechanical phenomenon known as Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC), using a luminescent polymer (plastic) similar to the materials …

When liquids behave like solids

(Phys.org) —When a rubber ball and a droplet of water are compressed onto a solid surface, they behave very differently. For the ball, the compression process is reversible, so the ball retains its original …

NPL and Arden Photonics use phone camera technology for compact laser measurement device

The Arden Photonics BQM-50 Beam Propagation Analyser Compact, based on a prototype developed by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), offers customers a quicker and easier way of characterising laser beams …

Expanding universe can emerge in remarkably simple way, scientists say

When soup is heated, it starts to boil. When time and space are heated, an expanding universe can emerge, without requiring anything like a “Big Bang”. This phase transition between a boring empty space and …

Contrary to popular opinion, new research finds no cognitive benefits of music lessons

Children get plenty of benefits from music lessons – learning to play an instrument can be a great outlet for a child’s creativity, and the repeated practice can teach much-needed focus and discipline. What’s …

Differences in educational achievement owe more to genetics than environment

The degree to which students’ exam scores differ owes more to their genes than to their teachers, schools or family environments, according to new research from King’s College London published today in PLOS ONE.

Poverty influences children’s early brain development

Poverty may have direct implications for important, early steps in the development of the brain, saddling children of low-income families with slower rates of growth in two key brain structures, according to researchers from …

Multi-gene test could help spot breast cancer patients most at risk

A new test has the potential to help physicians identify patients with the most lethal forms of triple-negative breast cancer, a disease which requires aggressive and innovative treatment.

Brief laser-light treatment may significantly improve effectiveness of influenza vaccines

Pretreating the site of intradermal vaccination – vaccine delivered into the skin rather than to muscles beneath the skin – with a particular wavelength of laser light may substantially improve vaccine effectiveness without …