Starring In Ultra-Short Films, Electrons Captured In Motion - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Business & Finance

Starring In Ultra-Short Films, Electrons Captured In Motion

Scientists hope seeing how an individual electron rides on a light wave after just having been detached from its atom will help them decipher other atomic and sub-atomic objects.

Using a stroboscopic layer that emits pulses of light at previously unheard-of rates, a team of scientists has produced the first "movie" of an individual electron "riding" on a light wave after just having been detached from its atom.

The images, the first of their kind, clearly show how electrons -- the lightest known particles possessing an electric charge -- scatter off their atoms in the process known as ionization.

In order to capture these quantum events, scientists at the Lund University Faculty of Engineering in Sweden used a laser pulsing at extremely high rates that match the incredibly fleeting life of the free electron. The ultrashort light pulses are just three hundred "attoseconds" long. It takes about 150 attoseconds for an electron to circle the nucleus of an atom, according to John Mauritsson, an assistant professor in atomic physics at Lund and one of seven researchers in the study. An attosecond is 10 to the negative 18 seconds long. "An attosecond is related to a second as a second is related to the age of the universe," explains Mauritsson in a statement.

The principle is the same as a strobe used to make conventional photographs of extremely rapid movements -- like a strobe light flashed at the same frequency as the beating wings of a hummingbird. The physicists used a new technology that generates very rapid pulses of intense laser light -- "attosecond pulses." The pulses are synchronized with an oscillating laser field that repeatedly ionizes a cloud of helium atoms.

Attosecond pulses have been attainable for a couple of years, but they were considered too weak for use in filming electrons in motion. The Lund scientists used repeated "movies" overlaid, like a photographer creating a single image from multiple exposures.

"By taking several pictures of exactly the same moment in the process, it's possible to create stronger, but still sharp, images," said Mauritsson.

The article on the experiment, "Coherent Electron Scattering Captured by an Attosecond Quantum Stroboscope" appears in the current issue of Physical Review Letters. The slow-motion video of the scattering electron -- which actually shows the energy distribution of the electron -- shows an expanding, multicolored bull's-eye pattern.

The scientists hope to use the stroboscopic laser technique to study how electrons interact with other atomic and sub-atomic objects.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
News
COVID-19: Using Data to Map Infections, Hospital Beds, and More
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/25/2020
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Robotic Process Automation
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  3/23/2020
Slideshows
How Startup Innovation Can Help Enterprises Face COVID-19
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  3/24/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll