Scientists have just discovered the smallest unit of time ever. They succeed in this by measuring the time it takes for a photon to pass through a hydrogen atom.
Time is 247 zeptoseconds, for recording. A zeptosecond is a trillionth of a billionth of a second, followed by 20 zeros and 1, or decimal places. This one femtosecond equals 0.000000000000001 seconds, or 10-15 Seconds.
Researchers had previously immersed themselves in the world of zeptosecond. In 2016, scientists published in the journal Nature Physics Use the laser to estimate the time at intervals of up to 850 zeptoseconds.
This unit of measurement is a huge leap from a study that first measured time in femtoseconds, which is a millionth of a billionth of a second, and won the 1999 Nobel Prize.
Scientists have classified their finding as the shortest time ever measured. It amounted to about 247 zeptoseconds (or 10-21 Seconds, a trillionth of a billionth of a second).
It takes femtosecond chemical bonds to break and form. On the other hand, a single hydrogen molecule takes fractions of seconds for light to pass through.
Physicist Reinhard Dörner of Goethe University in Germany and colleagues fired x-rays of PETRA III at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron Particle Accelerator (DESY) in Hamburg to measure this very short flight.
The researchers proved the X-ray intensity so that the two electrons were ejected from the hydrogen molecule by a single photon or particle of light. This is about two protons and two electrons in a hydrogen atom.
Shortest measurement ever
One electron from the atom bounced off a neutron, then the other, like a pebble rolling across the surface of the sea.
These interactions produced a wave pattern called an interference pattern, which Dorner and colleagues can calculate using an instrument called an interaction microscope called cold target ion momentum spectroscopy (COLTRIMS).
Basically, this device is a highly sensitive particle detector that can capture incredibly fast atomic and molecular interactions.
“Since we knew the spatial orientation of the hydrogen molecule, we used the interference of the two electron waves to accurately calculate when the photon reached the first wave and when it reached the second hydrogen atom,” the University of Rostock in Germany said in a statement.
Time? Two hundred and forty-seven zeptoseconds, with some space oscillating depending on the intra-molecular gap between the hydrogen atoms at the same time as the photon is wingless. In essence, the calculation captures the speed of light inside the molecule.
“We have observed for the first time that the electron shell in the molecule does not interact with light everywhere at the same time,” Dorner said in the statement. “The time delay occurs because the information inside the molecule is only propagated at the speed of light.”
The results are detailed in the journal Science On October 16th.
Check out more news and information about Time in Science Times.
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