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Scientists measured through a experiment using photons in hydrogen molecules the shortest unit of time

Recently researchers found the shortest unit of time ever through an experiment with hydrogen molecule and photon. The research first appeared in the Science journal on October 16 and Live Science originally published the article on their website. However, the article is now a trending science topic on the Internet. Let’s go through all the details about the experiment and the shortest unit of time below.

About the Research: Shortest Unit of Time

Goethe University scientists researched about measuring the shortest unit of time. They measured by calculating how a photon could quickly pass through a hydrogen molecule. The researchers involved in the research are Reinhard Dörner, who is a Physicist of Goethe University along with his colleagues in Germany. The name of the unit is zeptosecond which is equal to a second’s trillionth of a billionth. It is, in other words, have after the decimal point, 20 zeroes and one 1.

Previously, researchers in 2016 studied about the zeptoseconds realm. The journal Nature Physics contains the reporting of the study. They measured time up to 850 zeptoseconds through the use of lasers. However, it states in the new study that measurement can take place up to 247 zeptoseconds. It means the accuracy has a tremendous increase in comparison to measurement femtosecond, that is, second’s millionths of a billionth. This work also won the award of Nobel Prize in 1999. Now, researchers with time are also able to make more discoveries.

Experimental Research: Shortest Unit of Time

Chemical bonds form and break in femtoseconds, but light travels across a single hydrogen molecule in zeptoseconds. Researchers for measuring the short trip used X-Rays from PETRA III which is an accelerator of a particle in Hamburg at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY). The X-Rays energy are set in such a way that the hydrogen molecule’s two electrons are knocked by a particle of light or a single photon. There are two electrons and two protons in a hydrogen molecule.

In the experiment, one electron bounces out of the electron by the photon and then the other. It is like a bit skipping of pebble over the pond’s top. A wave pattern got created by the interactions which are termed as an inference pattern. The researchers used a tool, a Cold Target Recoil Ion Momentum Spectroscopy (COLTRIMS) reaction microscope for measuring the inference patterns. Swift atomic and molecular reactions are recorded by the tool, which is a sensitive particle detector. The microscope records both the hydrogen molecule’s position and the inference pattern throughout the interaction.

Statement from Researchers: Shortest Unit of Time

Sven Grundmann, who is University of Rostock’s study coauthor in Germany stated that they used two electron waves interference since they knew the hydrogen molecule’s spatial orientation for precisely calculating the reaching of first and then the second hydrogen atom by the photon. Dorner stated that they observed that a molecule’s electron shell does not at the same time react to light everywhere for the first time. Molecule’s information only spread at the speed of the light due to which the occurrence of the time delay takes place.

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