Physics Colloquium: Using ultrashort lasers to "see" small molecules.

Event Details

  • Speaker(s): Joseph Sanderson
  • Date:
  • Time: 4:00 p.m.
  • Location: SCIE 1511 - Atrium Wing

From the microscopes of the seventeenth century to the first movie setups of the nineteenth century, we have continued to develop new tools in order to see and record the world around us. Now ultrafast lasers give us the chance to image the motion of single molecules on a timescale which allows us to view their natural motion. One method, Coulomb imaging, uses the high electric field generated at the centre of a femtosecond laser focus, to remove many electrons from a molecule. The remaining positively charged atomic fragments repel each other so that the molecule explodes. By measuring accurately the momenta of all the ion fragments in coincidence it is possible to reconstruct the geometry of the molecule. In my talk I will look back at some milestones in our quest to image smaller faster subjects, review the current state of Coulomb imaging studies, and look forward to the next challenges.