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Northwest Missouri State University

Faculty/Staff Spotlight

Dec. 19, 2013

Physics professor’s cutting-edge attoscience research with nanomaterials published in prestigious journal

Dr. Himadri Chakraborty

Dr. Himadri Chakraborty

A discovery resulting from the ongoing research of Northwest Missouri State University Associate Professor of Physics Dr. Himadri Chakraborty recently was published in the prestigious Physical Review Letters, a top-ranking international journal for contemporary sciences.

Chakraborty’s paper, “Time Delay in the Recoiling Valence Photoemission of Ar Endohedrally Confined in C60,” was published in the journal last month. He co-authored the article with his research collaborators in Germany, Gopal Dixit and Mohamed El-Amine Madjet.

The article describes the researchers’ theoretical discovery, which found ultrashort flashes of light with just the right energy can shine on an atom confined in a fullerene nanometric cage and knock electrons out of various quantum levels.

The confinement shows a spectacular preference, Chakraborty determined. It lets one electron escape about 100 times faster than the other.

“This is a real cutting-edge research result and sets a brand new direction for our program,” Chakraborty said.

For general atoms, the delayed response of emitting electrons to light is known. But to determine whether that behavior was true when an atom is taken hostage inside a material nano-cavity, the researchers implanted an argon atom inside the C60 molecule. The space and energy proximity of the argon outer electron to a C60 electron metamorphosed both into two Ar-C60 hybrid electrons. Due to correlations with the fullerene electron cloud, one hybrid escapes faster than the other by about 100 attoseconds, or one quintillionth of a second, upon being illuminated.

“The source of such an intriguing behavior lies in the preservation of the electrons’ net spectral phase,” Chakraborty said. “While this is actually a collision in time, an analogy can be drawn with the conservation of the momentum in a two-body collision in space.”

Chakraborty adds that while nanotechnology is an emerging, cutting-edge field, attoscience – the timing of electronic motions – could serve as a bridge to developing a new science discipline that combines nanoscience and attoscience.

Nanoscience is the study and use of materials at the super-molecular level, and nanoscale science applications are being developed in such fields as energy production, photography, optoelectronics, information storage, and medicine. Northwest offers an interdisciplinary nanoscience program that includes hands-on laboratory experience at its state-of-the-art Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

Attoscience may be applied, for example, to devising sensors and switches that could control a time lag to a reaction.

“The research attempts to connect two distinct disciplines of contemporary science, nanotechnology and attoscience, and motivates toward building ultrafast light sensors, where the response time of light to nanomaterials are in attoseconds.”

The discovery occurred as part of Chakraborty’s ongoing federally-funded research program related to the spectroscopy of nanoparticles, particularly the soccer-ball-like molecules known as fullerenes, and their exotic derivatives.

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468