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Ultra-short electron beams boost bioimaging

Scientists hope to use their new laser gun and its single-cycle terahertz pulses to study photosynthesis.

By Brooks Hays
Ultra-short electron beams boost bioimaging
Researcher incorporated their tiny laser gun into an attasecond tabletop free-electron laser. Photo by W. Ronny Huang et al./Optica

HAMBURG, Germany, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Thanks to a team of scientists from Germany and the United States, the use of ultra-short electron beams for bioimaging no longer requires a device the size of a car.

Researchers from the German Electron Synchrotron and MIT developed a small, energy efficient laser gun for the study of chemical, physical and biological processes.

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Currently, ultrafast laser spectroscopy is the preferred method for studying molecular processes inside a cell. The method reduces complex, light-induced biochemical reactions to just a handful of reaction coordinates.

The device expands the ability of scientists to image complex reactions. Researchers incorporated the matchbox-sized ultra short electron beam generator into an attosecond tabletop free-electron laser. The combination allows scientists to record reaction details on ultrafast timescales.

Scientists hope to use their new laser gun and its single-cycle terahertz pulses to render the details of electron transfers, light reactions and protein structures during photosynthesis.

Researchers detailed their new ultrafast laser gun in the journal Optica.

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