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Scientists found that relatively slow electrons are produced when intense lasers interact with small clusters of atoms, upturning current theories.
Intense laser cluster interactions occur when small clusters of atoms, nanometres (billionths of a metre) in size, are struck with intense lasers. This happens, for example, when imaging biomedical samples on ultrafast timescales. However, the biomolecules can be damaged in this process by radiation.
Discovery - Electrons - Laser - Cluster - Interactions
The discovery of slow, low-energy electrons produced by the intense laser cluster interactions provides a missing link in scientists' understanding of the process, and could explain why biomolecules are damaged.
Intense laser cluster interactions were known to produce energetic ions and electrons, but now, in a paper published today in Physical Review Letters, researchers have revealed that relatively slow electrons are also produced in large quantities.
Team - Researchers - Imperial - College - London
A team of researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Rostock, the Max-Born-Institute, the University of Heidelberg and ELI-ALPS exposed tiny clusters consisting of a few thousand atoms to ultrashort, intense laser pulses. They found that the vast majority of the emitted electrons were very slow and were emitted with a delay compared to the more energetic electrons.
Lead scientist Dr. Bernd Schütte, who performed the experiments at the Department of Physics at Imperial, said: "Many factors including the Earth's magnetic field influence the movement of slow electrons, making their detection very difficult and explaining why they have not been observed earlier. Our observations were independent from the specific cluster and laser parameters used, and they help us to understand the complex processes evolving on the nanoscale."
Particles - Clusters - Nanoscale - Nanometers - Size
When particles or clusters on the nanoscale (nanometers in size) are struck by intense laser pulses, various phenomena are produced, and most are well understood. However, the generation of highly charged ions has so far posed a riddle to researchers. This is because simulations predicted that electrons and...
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