Protons caught in action
scientists have caught the ultra-swift subatomic particles called protons in action. The feat, accomplished by a team of researchers from the Imperial College in the uk , opens a new window to fundamental scientific processes.
The breakthrough was achieved using hydrogen and methane molecules. It will provide opportunities to scientists for a more detailed study and greater control of molecules, particularly organic molecules that are the building blocks of life. The study appeared in the March 3 issue of Science (Vol 311, No 5765).
We are very excited by these results, not only because we have 'watched' motion occurring faster than was previously possible, but because we have achieved this using a compact and simple technique that will make such study accessible to scientists around the world," says Sarah Baker, the lead author of the study.
The scientists used a specially built laser system at the university's Blackett Laboratory Laser Consortium to produce extremely brief pulses of light. The laser exerted an oscillating electromagnetic force on the electrons surrounding the protons, repeatedly tearing them from the molecule and driving them back into it. This caused the electrons to emit x-rays, whose intensity was proportional to how far the protons moved between each oscillation of the electromagnetic field.
The Imperial College scientists think that control of subatomic particles underpins an array of future technologies, such as quantum computing and fabrication of nano-scale materials.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.