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Ultrafast Science

The realm of the ultra-small is ultrafast: atoms and molecules vibrate at quadrillionths-of-a-second cycles. 

This movement affects the function of nanoscale materials and must be considered in everything nanotechnology touches, including solar energy efficiency, solar storage and computer design.  But understanding such molecular and atomic fluctuations requires that they are recorded and analyzed. Stanford researchers have perfected techniques for atomic-scale photography utilizing the Linac Coherent Light Source, a “camera” that employs an X-ray beam to capture high-resolution, frame-by-frame imagery of individual atoms in motion. These images ultimately could lead to:

  • The development of more efficient photo-electrochemical cells.
  • The refinement of nanoscale “superionic” materials that become an amalgam of liquid and crystal when heated, serving as a base for ultra-efficient batteries.
  • Computers that would function at trillions of cycles a second rather than the current billions of cycles a second.
Persis Drell
Frederick Emmons Terman Dean, Stanford School of Engineering
James and Anna Marie Spilker Professor in the School of Engineering
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Physics, Stanford University
Tel: (650) 723-3938
Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
Assistant Professor, Photon Science Directorate
Affiliate, Precourt Institute for Energy
(650) 725-2640
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