N° 442 July-August 2019

Visualizing matter in transformation with ultrashort flashes of electromagnetic waves

Pagination : 19-21
Rubrique : IUPAC 2019 Paris, 7-12 July 2019 - Frontiers in Chemistry: let's create our future!
Sous-rubrique : Chemistry and waves: an ocean for multidisciplinarity
© Dr Frank Poppe, European XFEL Hamburg.

Part of the FXE beamline of the European XFEL in Hamburg.

My scientific life, and ultrafast science in Scandinavia, started in 1975 when Peter Rentzepis, one of the pioneers of the field, accepted me as a visiting student to his labs. After learning the ins and outs of generating short, I started to build the first picosecond laboratory in Scandinavia. Decades of research have shown that chemical transformations occur over a very broad time scale, from femtoseconds (1 fs = 10-15 s) to seconds, minutes... – fundamental processes like breaking and formation of chemical bonds, or redistribution of energy and charge within or between molecules, belong to the fastest processes, while compound chemical reactions can be very slow.

In my own research I have been driven by a curiosity and interest to understand Nature’s processes. Photosynthesis, the ultimate process supplying all of the organic compounds and most of the energy necessary for life on Earth, appeared to be a good choice and the light driven processes of photosynthesis was therefore an early target for my research.