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Research Highlights

Capturing Ultra-fast Molecular Change

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Untitled-6Molecules that react to light undergo structural changes so fast ‒ in less than 1 trillionth of a second ‒ that the initial stages of photosynthesis and vision remain largely a mystery. UNL physicist Martin Centurion and colleagues discovered a way to use lasers to capture 3-D images of molecules undergoing these super-fast structural changes. It’s a major advance toward studying how light energy is converted into chemical energy. It may one day lead to better alternative energy sources, help solve vision problems and improve skin cancer prevention and treatment. To prove their technique works, they created an image of a simple five-atom molecule and reported results in the journal Physical Review Letters. A $750,000 Department of Energy Early Career Research Program award supports this research.

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