HD Camera for the Quantum World
An ultrafast microscope for the quantum world
Excerpts and salient points ~
+ Processes taking place inside tiny electronic components or in molecules can now be filmed at a resolution of a few hundred attoseconds and down to the individual atom.
“Filming electrons in molecules live, and on their natural spatial and temporal scale, is vital in order to understand chemical reactivity, for example, and the conversion of light energy within charged particles, such as electrons or ions,” says Klaus Kern, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research.
+ With the new technique, physicists can now measure exactly where electrons are at a specific time down to the individual atom and to an accuracy of a few hundred attoseconds. For example, this can be used in molecules that have had an electron catapulted out of them by a high-energy pulse of light, leading the remaining negative charge carriers to rearrange themselves and possibly causing the molecule to enter into a chemical reaction with another molecule.
+ Moreover, the technique not only allows researchers to track the path of electrons through the processors and chips of the future, but can also lead to a dramatic acceleration of the charge carriers: “In today’s computers, electrons oscillate at a frequency of a billion hertz,” says Klaus Kern. “Using ultrashort light pulses, it may be possible to increase their frequency to a trillion hertz.” With this turbo booster for light waves, researchers could clear the way for light-wave electronics, which is millions of times faster than current computers. Therefore, the ultrafast microscope not only films processes in the quantum world, but also acts as the Director by interfering with these processes.
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