Scientists Extend Laser 'Combing' Method to Identify Large, Complex Molecules

May 5, 2016

Figure 2: A schematic of the combined CE-DFCS and buffer gas cooling apparatus*
[Reprinted with permission from AAAS]

JILA physicists have extended the capability of their powerful laser "combing" technique to identify the structures of large, complex molecules of the sort found in explosives, pharmaceuticals, fuels and the gases around stars.

The advance, described in a Nature paper published online May 4, 2016, was made possible by a cooling method developed by Prof. John Doyle and Harvard Physics Senior Scientist David Patterson, both co-authors of the study. The JILA-Harvard work boosts the might of spectroscopy, the study of interactions between matter and light, which informs many fields, such as chemistry, physics, astronomy, imaging and remote sensing.

*Read "JILA extends laser 'combing' method to identify large, complex molecules," (May 4, 2016). Also see the Nature letter: B. Spaun, P.B. Changala, D. Patterson, B.J. Bjork, O.H. Heckl, J.M. Doyle & J, Ye, "Continuous probing of cold complex molecules with infrared frequency comb spectroscopy," Nature 04 May 2016 | doi:10.1038/nature17440