World's fastest 'molecular movie' recorded

Written by: Ani
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London, Jan 13 (ANI): Scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin fur Materialien und Energie (HZB) and the Technische Uni-versitat Berlin (TUB) have successfully come one step closer to recording a 'molecular movie.'

Molecular level process are not just miniscule, they are often extremely fast, and therefore difficult to capture in action.

But the team can record two pictures at such a short time interval that it will soon be possible to observe molecules and nanostructures in real time.

The achievement would help us better understand fundamental processes in the natural sciences.

The team at HZB and TUB have managed to take ultrafast image sequences of objects mere micrometres in size using pulses from the X-ray laser FLASH in Hamburg, Germany.

Furthermore, they chart out a path how their approach can be scaled to nanometer resolution in the future.

First, the scientists split the X-ray laser beam into two separate beams. Using multiple mirrors, they force one beam to take a short detour, which causes the two pulses to reach the object under study at ever so slightly different times - the two pulses arrive only 0.00000000000005 seconds apart.

Due to a specific geometric arrangement of the sample, the pulses generate a "double-hologram". This hologram encodes the structure of the object at the two times at which the X-ray pulses hit.

Using a mathematical reconstruction procedure, the researchers can then simply associate the images with the respective X-ray puses and thus determine the image sequence in correct temporal order.

"In this short time interval, even a ray of light travels no further than the width of a human hair," said Christian G|nther, the first author of the publication.

"The long-term goal is to be able to follow the movements of molecules and nanostructures in real time," said project head Prof. Dr. Stefan Eisebitt.

The results appear in the journal Nature Photonics. (ANI)

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