This time around, results obtained using Ultra's ultra-fast spectroscopy capability were presented in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (link opens in a new window) by Stephanie Harris et al in a collaborative effort between University of Bristol, University of Southern California and the Central Laser Facility.
The key work that Ultra enabled was to capture the evolution of a molecular dissociation process in real time in solution; a process only previously studied for isolated molecules in the gas phase, as Stephanie explains:
"Absorption of light can often cause a chemical bond within a molecule to break. Historically, this process has been studied for isolated molecules in the gas phase but technological advances mean that it is now possible to study the same process in molecules in solution, where they are surrounded by numerous solvent molecules.
The 'horse in motion' inspired cover art for the PCCP journal (Credit: Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 2013)
This study sought to explore the similarities and differences introduced by the presence of solvent, by comparing results from previous studies of the isolated molecules with state-of-the-art time-resolved absorption spectroscopy measurements in solution.
Time-resolved absorption spectroscopy (link opens in a new window) methods allow one to capture the evolution of a molecular dissociation process ‘in real time’. Such studies provide hitherto unobtainable detail about how the dissociation and subsequent processes in the solution proceed – much like how Eadweard Muybridge’s iconic 1878 study entitled ‘Horse in Motion,’ on which the cover art is based, used the time-resolved capability of photography to unravel the mechanics of a horse’s gallop"