Physicist Creates A Molecular Black Hole Using The Most Powerful X-Ray Laser Beam

By Menahem, Zen | Jun 09, 2017 02:31 PM EDT
Molecular black hole in the iodine atom is created after the atom is beamed with a high intensity X-ray laser.

Physicists are able to focus an X-ray laser beam using the most powerful X-ray laser on a small molecule. The scientists create this molecular black hole to study the molecule under extreme condition.

The scientists who work at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory began the experiment by focusing the full intensity of the pulse from the most powerful X-ray laser of the SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) on a small molecule. The result was surprising, as the single laser pulse created a molecular black hole, stripping most of the electron on the molecules from inside out within a very short time, 30 femtoseconds, millionths of a billionth of a second.

This intense laser beam became the molecular black hole to its surrounding atoms similar to the black hole that swallowed the surrounding matter. The pulse intensity from the laser is a hundred times more intense than focusing the entire sunlight on the Earth's surface onto a thumbnail.

Watch video

The result of this molecular black hole experiment is published in the Nature Journal. The lead researchers for this experiment are two Assistant Professors from the Department of Physics at the Kansas State University, Artem Rudenko and his colleague Daniel Rolles.

“For any type of experiment you do that focuses intense X-rays on a sample," Rolles said about the molecular black hole created with the X-ray. “This paper shows that we can understand and model the radiation damage in small molecules."

In the experiment, Rudenko, Rolles, and team beamed a very intense x-ray laser pulse into iodine atom. The X-rays trigger the cascade of the electron that made the iodine atom losing most of its molecule and sucked in electron from the neighboring carbon and hydrogen atoms, acting like a molecular black hole. The x-rays have damaged the molecular structure of iodine.

This experiment is valuable to give a fundamental insight of the molecule under extreme condition. It is also useful to gain further understanding of the charge dynamic in complex molecules for advanced technology. Watch the report of the molecular black hole experiment below:

Latest Stories