A research team of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) has developed a ultra-fast electron diffraction device that can capture atomic motions more than three times faster and more than 100 times brightly than existing ones.
Atomic motions are difficult to capture as they last for a very short period of time. Their duration is measured in femtoseconds (1,000 trillionth of a second) or picoseconds (1 trillionths of a second), and ultrafast electron diffraction devices are used to capture them.
Time resolution is a performance indicator that shows how fast a particular phenomenon can be measured. The better time resolution is, the sooner the motion of atoms can be captured. The best performance belongs to an ultra-fast electronic diffraction device owned by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the United States, which has a time resolution of 100 femtoseconds.
The device developed by the team has the time resolution of 32 femtoseconds, which can observe the motion of atoms three times faster than this, making it possible to observe the motion of atoms and molecules fastest in the world.
In general, the faster the motion of an atom is measured, the weaker brightness becomes. However, the equipment developed by the team can observe about 100 times brighter than the device at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, so it can catch changes in a molecular structure more clearly.
In the future, the research team plans to develop a technique that can directly measure electron moves in an atom that is indirectly measured by using ultra-fast electron diffraction technology and reach the time resolution in the atosecond (a 100 quintillionth of a second) range.