Captured in action

Published: Saturday 31 January 1998

With the help of ultrashort pulses of X-rays, scientists can now have a quick look at the movement of atoms during fast chemical reactions. Antoine Rousse and his colleagues at the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Techniques, France, used X-ray pulses for extremely short periods (120 femtoseconds) to capture the 'image' of the atoms on a film of an organic compound. The compound contained regularly spaced cadmium atoms that diffracted the X-rays (New Scientist , Vol 156, No 2111).

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