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Technology and Health News > Thursday, February-28-2008

Electrons for the first time in a movie

Filming particles is now possible. It was done for the first time by a group of Swedish researchers using extremely short pulses of light

Getting images of electrons that do not appear to "move" has been impossible because of the speed of these microscopic particles. But a group of researchers in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Lund (Sweden) now has found a way to shoot the movement of an electron using an innovative technique that provides for the use of flash light of extremely short duration.

"An electron," says Johan Mauritsson, a researcher at the Department of Atomic Physics, University of Lund and one of the authors of the study published in Physical Review Letters, "employs about 150 attoseconds to make one complete revolution around the nucleus of the atom. An attosecondo is a billionth of a billionth of a second. The movement of was guided by a laser that made it possible to follow with high accuracy within its path of the beam of light and 'look' his behavior when faced with an atom. The impulse to attoseconds then captured the frames that have composed the movie. The action of these pulses can be compared to the effects of flashing lights in a disco (called strobes lights), which set our eyes the images of people on the move as a regular sequence of shots.

Who then is expected to see a real video of a particle moving probably be disappointed, because the movie got was a sequence of images that photograph from the pattern of energy distribution. The study, however, opens the way for a number of practical applications: in the same Mauritsson said, "now we will be able to observe, for example, how the electrons behave when confronted with various objects." The series takes as a single swing of light and needed to be slow downed significantly (here a link to the video.)

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