The embryonic development of femtoscience stems from advances made in the generation of ultrashort laser pulses. Beginning with mode-locking of glass lasers in the 1960s, the development of dye lasers brought the pulse width down from picoseconds to femtoseconds. The breakthrough in solid state laser pulse generation provided the current reliable table-top laser systems capable of average power of about 1 watt, and peak power density of easily watts per square centimeter, with pulse widths in the range of four to eight femtoseconds. Pulses with peak power density reaching watts per square centimeter have been achieved in laboratory settings and, more recently, pulses of sub-femtosecond duration have been successfully generated. As concepts and methodologies have evolved over the past two decades, the realm of ultrafast science has become vast and exciting and has impacted many areas of chemistry, biology and physics, and other fields such as materials science, electrical engineering, and optical communication. In molecular science the explosive growth of this research is for fundamental reasons. In femtochemistry and femtobiology chemical bonds form and break on the femtosecond time scale, and on this scale of time we can freeze the transition states at configurations never before seen. Even for n- reactive physical changes one is observing the most elementary of molecular processes. On a time scale shorter than the vibrational and rotational periods the ensemble behaves coherently as a single-molecule trajectory.
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