The Breakthrough

A team of scientists from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich have been able to shorten the duration of electron pulses down to 30 femtoseconds, allowing electron microscopes to capture and record “the fastest known atomic motions in four dimensions, namely in space and time,” according to Dr. Peter Baum. “With our ultrashort electron pulses, we are now able to gain a much more detailed insight into processes happening within solids and molecules than before.”

Electron Microscopy

Electron microscopes have been in use for almost a century to capture still images of molecules and atoms, but in recent years, scientists have been using short-pulse technology to capture sharp images of these atoms in motion. By further shortening the duration of these pulses, scientists are able to capture a spatial image of the atomic motions of a biomolecule in a diffraction experiment.


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