Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Queen's University
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Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Using Femtosecond Lasers to Help Us 'See' Molecules and their Motion

Joe Sanderson
University of Waterloo

Thursday, November 8, 2012
10:30 AM @ Stirling 501


Since the end of the 19th century we have been trying to make movies of dynamic processes in our environment. From the outset the developments of our capabilities has been driven by scientific enquiry with the first efforts, involving cameras with a shutter speeds less than a millisecond and able to image the dynamics of systems of interest (animals) on the sub meter scale. The current generation of imaging apparatus can, thanks to ultrafast lasers, allow us to use a shutter speed in the femtosecond time range (10^{-15}s) and to image systems of interest (single molecules) on the sub nanometer scale.

I will present a potted and biased history of more than a century of development and introduce the method of Coulomb explosion imaging which is the focus of my own research. Finally I will talk briefly about our most recent efforts to image molecules, as they deform in the extreme electric field of the laser, or change their shape from one stable geometry to another. The talk will conclude with the premier of our latest action movies.