Nav: Home

Laser physics: Transformation through light

February 12, 2019

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of how C60 carbon molecules react to extremely short pulses of intense infrared light.

C60 is an extremely well-studied carbon molecule, which consists of 60 carbon atoms and is structured like a soccer ball. The macromolecule is also known as buckminsterfullerene (or buckyball), a name given as a tribute to the architect Richard Buckminster Fuller, who designed buildings with similar shapes.

Laser physicists have now irradiated buckyballs with infrared femtosecond laser pulses (one femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second). Under the influence of the intense light, the form of the macromolecule was changed from round to elongated. The physicists were able to observe this structural transformation by using the following trick: At its maximum strength the infrared pulse triggered the release of an electron from the molecule. Owing to the oscillations in the electromagnetic field of the light, the electron was first accelerated away from and then drawn back toward the molecule, all within the timespan of a few femtoseconds. Finally, the electron scattered off the molecule and left it completely. Images of these diffracted electrons allowed the deformed structure of the molecule to be reconstructed.

Fullerenes, the discovery of which was honored with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996, are stable, biocompatible, and exhibit remarkable physical, chemical and electronic properties. "A deeper understanding of the interaction of fullerenes with ultrashort, intense light may result in new applications in ultrafast, light-controlled electronics, which could operate at speeds many orders of magnitude faster than conventional electronics", explains Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich Professor Matthias Kling.
-end-


Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Related Chemistry Articles:

The chemistry of olive oil (video)
Whether you have it with bread or use it to cook, olive oil is awesome.
With more light, chemistry speeds up
Light initiates many chemical reactions. Experiments at the Laser Centre of the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the University of Warsaw's Faculty of Physics have for the first time demonstrated that increasing the intensity of illumination some reactions can be significantly faster.
The chemistry of whiskey (video)
Derby Day means it's time to recognize the chemical process of distillation, which makes bourbon possible.
Restoration based on chemistry
Considered the pinnacle of mediaeval painting, the Ghent Altarpiece was painted around 1432 by Jan van Eyck and probably his brother Hubert.
The chemistry of redheads (video)
The thing that sets redheads apart from the crowd is pigmentation.
Scientists discover helium chemistry
The scientists experimentally confirmed and theoretically explained the stability of Na2He.
What might Trump mean for chemistry? (video)
Donald Trump is now the 45th president of the US.
Chemistry on the edge
Defects and jagged surfaces at the edges of nanosized platinum and gold particles are key hot spots for chemical reactivity, researchers confirmed using a unique infrared probe at Berkeley Lab.
Light powers new chemistry for old enzymes
Princeton researchers have developed a method that irradiates biological enzymes with light to expand their highly efficient and selective capacity for catalysis to new chemistry.
Better chemistry through...chemistry
Award-winning UCSB professor Bruce Lipshutz is out to make organic chemistry better for the planet

Related Chemistry Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".