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NRC Discovery Reveals Ultrafast Processes
Sep 1999
OTTAWA, Canada, Sept. 8 -- Scientists at the National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences have developed a technique that reveals the ultrafast internal processes that lead to electronic-structural rearrangements in molecules. The NRC group specializes in femtosecond laser technology, intense field physics and molecular dynamics.
As reported in Nature, the researchers developed a new femtosecond method for following and distinguishing the electronic reorganizations and atomic motions that take place during a molecular process. The method involves the use of ionization -- removal of an electron -- to track a molecule's activity at the moment ionization occurs. By using photoelectron spectroscopy to measure the removed electron, Albert Stolow and colleagues at the NRC were able to follow both the atomic motions and the electronic rearrangements that accompany the motions.
Scientists hope this research will provide insight into biological processes such as vision and photosynthesis, as well as into the growing field of molecular electronics, which treats molecules as electronic devices. Commenting on the NRC group's work, Stolow said, We expect that fundamental studies will shed new light onto complex chemical and biological processes as well as open new avenues for the rational design of molecular devices.

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