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Molecules Manipulated with Lasers

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the do-the-pokey-pokey dept.

66

eldavojohn writes "Scientists have been busy in Ottawa using lasers to manipulate chemical reactions. While this may not seem like an impressive feat, the implications this has for quantum mechanics is quite large. From the article, "According to Albert Stolow, the NRC team leader, the tool used to alter molecular landscapes has implications beyond the control of chemical reactions. One example already mentioned is in the area of quantum information either to directly encode molecular scale information or to control molecular scale switches. Another application is in developing novel forms of optical microscopy of live cells, where quantum control methods can be used to sharpen images, enhance sensitivity and perhaps even perform molecular scale surgery on individual cells. The electric interaction underlying the NRC technique is an essential tool on the quantum mechanic's workbench. Its application to science and technology could reach deep into the quantum world of the ultrasmall." The article in science was where I caught this initially though it doesn't seem to be free anywhere online. The final words of the summary are "suggesting broad applicability" but only time will tell how far our imaginations will use this research."

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66 comments

Que the shark jokes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16447289)

...and the armchair quantum physics discussions. :-P *bleh* Slow news day.

Re:Que the shark jokes! (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#16453751)

Que the shark jokes!
Must be a new title, I don't find in on their website [quepublishing.com] .

Re:Que the shark jokes! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16454901)

> and perhaps even perform molecular scale surgery on individual cells.

"Well, that molecule's done. How many more to go?"

"Four hundred seventeen quintillion, three hundred sixty five quadrillion, forty..."

"Sigh"

lasers (5, Funny)

freewaybear (906222) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447297)

That's nothing. I've been using lasers to manipulate my cats for years, and they're a lot bigger than molecules.

Re:lasers (2)

Flopy (926705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16448869)

Oh yeah? Why, back in MY day we used to rub cats' fur to generate the required power for powering bulbs...and the triboelectric effect hadn't even been invented yet!

Re:lasers (1)

RincewindTVD (1011435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16450737)

Patent Infringement [uspto.gov] ! I clearly have prior art to entertaining/excersizing these molecules!

Spelling? (5, Informative)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447299)

I know us Canucks like to change all kinds of words like "colour" and "favour", but for the love of Pete, it's spelt "Ottawa"... = / -Aikon

Re:Spelling? (2, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447373)

How is "colour" and "flavour" changing anything? That's the original English spelling. It was only after 1776 that American orthographical reforms departed from tradition.

Re:Spelling? (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447433)

My apologies, "change" wasn't the correct word; I wasn't focusing too hard on that part since the point of my post was to bring attention to the mispelling of our nation's capital.

-Aikon

Re:Spelling? (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447487)

Actually, before Webster's dictionary, everybody spelled everything however the hell they wanted. It was only after Webster, and later Oxford, came into play that we got this.

Re:Spelling? (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447509)

That's not the case. For one, by 1700, English spelling had ceased to be as individual as in the previous two centuries. Also, even in a time of seemingly arbitrary spelling, there were still clear preferences among the public, and "-our" was (wait for it) favoured.

Re:Spelling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16448265)

For what it's worth, I think Chaucer used the spelling 'colour' pretty consistently.
He also used the good English word 'hewe' (hue) to have similar meaning.

That Emelye, that fairer was to sene
Than is the lylie upon his stalke grene
And fressher than the May with floures newe,
For with the rose colour stroof hire hewe,
I noot which was the fyner of hem two

Re:Spelling? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16455045)

Don't forget this little known Middle English verse and refrain. I think it was from an exile living in Paris in the 1200s.

I luve mesalf
I wont yoo to luve me
Whon I's feeling dawhn
I wont yoo ubahve me
I serche mesalf
I wont yoo to fihnde me
I forghete mesalf
I wont you to rehmihnde me
I want you to find me
I forget myself
I want you to remind me

I dohn't wont anybodies ehlse
Whon I tinks uhbouht yoo I touche mesalf
I dohn't wont anybodies ehlse
Oh noes, oh noes, oh noes!

Re:Spelling? (1)

wrenkin (71468) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447523)

There were other dictionaries [wikipedia.org] you know...

Re:Spelling? (0)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447719)

While we're talking about who changed what, the original words in Latin were spelled "honor", "color", "favor", etc. It's the English who corrupted them and the Americans who restored them to their original, proper spellings. /language snobism

Re:Spelling? (2, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447913)

No. In Old French, the Latin ending "-or" became "-our". This spread into Middle English when the French language became houte coutre after the Norman Conquest. English knew only "-our" before the American spelling reform.

Re:Spelling? (1)

Lissajous (989738) | more than 7 years ago | (#16449965)

Heh - I take it you mean it became "haute couture" after the Norman Conquest?

Oh, and I for one may or not have welcomed our Norman overlords.

Re:Spelling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16482221)

Any country that mis-spells "jail" as "gaol", "draft" as "draught", etc., has no business criticizing American spelling.
Remember that Webster's dictionary was first; the OED was an also-ran.

Re:Spelling? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16487459)

Samuel Johnson wrote the first widely-praised dictionary. Before American independence.

Re:Spelling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16451061)

We canucks just don't feel at home without our 'a's, eh?

For the love of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16453635)

Who the @#$% is this Pete guy anyway??

Speling (3, Informative)

brasspen (899025) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447305)

I think that's Ottawa. As in Canada's capital. There is no "o".

Re:Speling (3, Funny)

gary chund (697151) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447443)

No 'O' ?

So it's more like Ttawa? Nice one.

Re:Speling (1)

ROMRIX (912502) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447589)

He said, "no 'o'", Not "no 'O'"
Note the subtle difference in CAPITALIZATION!

Re:Speling (1)

iamstretchypanda (939837) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447661)

Can I get a...

..."pwnd" anyone?
[/irony]

I believe that's what we call it now-a-days.

Re:Speling (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16454931)

So then it would really be "Pttawa"?

Re:Speling (2, Funny)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16452159)

He's a case insensitive clod!

Re:Speling (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16450009)

o? I thought Canada's capital was 'C'.

cool (4, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447307)

That's really cool, but my first question is, how'd they get the sharks to sit still so they could finish the tests?

Re:cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16447491)

That's really cool, but my first question is, how'd they get the sharks to sit still so they could finish the tests?
No more of these jokes - just please no more.

jaaaaa (1)

riff420 (810435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447313)

DUDE MAN DUDE, I bet they could make some KILLER weed with this, dude, man, duuuuuuuuuuude.

Applications (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447357)

You mean we can write "IBM" even smaller now?


Granted, it's an amazing feat, but when can we start manipulating particles like electrons? I want to force a neutron into hydrogen and get deuterium without all that concentrating. When we get that kind of science down to a manufacturing technology, that's when the real fun begins!

Re:Applications (3, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447665)

I want to force a neutron into hydrogen and get deuterium without all that concentrating.

I don't care how hard you have to concentrate, if you can do that under controled conditions there's a million bucks in it for you.

KFG

Re:Applications (3, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447727)

Given enough curry a man can produce all the gases you care to examine.

I cannot guarantee they will be what you are looking for, but until you check you will never know.

Re:Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16448761)

If you can manipulate water molecules to force their hydrogens to get near enough without breaking the molecule, then you got it ;)

Re:Applications (1)

JSchoeck (969798) | more than 7 years ago | (#16452973)

What you are referring to, I guess, is that IBM spelled "IBM" with single atoms in 1989 using a tunneling microscope.

Doing this with molecules would increase the size of what you write, not make it smaller. Why? Molecules are made up from two to very many (100000 easily) atoms.

Re:Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16456107)

I saw a couple talks on what I _think_ is the technology they're describing here a few years back. You take a femtosecond pulsed laser - the pulses are so short that the frequency spread of the pulse is very large. You put it through a grating to separate all these different frequencies, and pass this through a liquid crystal display and use another grating to recombine it. So you essentially have very detailed control of which frequencies are included in the beam....the electric field (as a function of time) that the molecule feels is the Fourier transform of the frequency distribution you chose using the LCD. This laser beam then shines on a beam of molecules. Then, they tried to use various algorithms (eg. genetic algoritms) to find a frequency distribution that maximizes some particular reaction.

It's an interesting idea. The downside was, at least a couple years ago, the best increase in reaction yield was around 30%. It's not nearly enough to be useful for making anything, and because of the complexity of accurate theoretical models for quantum chemistry, it's not clear how much insight you can gain about molecular structure from knowing a "useful" light beam pattern. The article was light on details, and the /. audience even less informative. I would've expected someone here to be familiar with the field.

Ottowa in Canoda? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16447367)

I know Ottawa is the capital of Canada, but where is Ottowa? I think I remember reading somewhere that it is in the small country of Canoda, which is just north of Omerica. I went to the capital of Omerica once. A beautiful city named Woshington.

Re:Ottowa in Canoda? (2, Funny)

EveLibertine (847955) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447797)

I think you mean Woshington O.C., which is the capitol of Omerica. Woshington just another state.

Re:Ottowa in Canoda? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16455097)

With molecular manipulation, I suppose we've got more to fear now from a future like the movie Gottico.

Re:Ottowa in Canoda? (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16448195)

And Omerica is north of Mexica.

Re:Ottowa in Canoda? (1)

Shadyman (939863) | more than 7 years ago | (#16449179)

You've gotta be kidding me.

Lasers (0, Redundant)

KSobby (833882) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447415)

The hard part was getting the sharks to hold their heads still.

Molecular Scale Surgery? (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447417)

And I thought it took a lot of my time to go to the doctor before. Repairing individual cells, now thats got to take a while.

Re:Molecular Scale Surgery? (4, Insightful)

LuNa7ic (991615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16449825)

For that reason, this will be unlikely to have a large impact on corrective surgery, however this could make genetic manipulation a lot easier on zygote. If base-pairs between DNA strands could be manipulated individually and precisely, controlled genetic mutation could become feasible in the future.

New Batteries? (5, Interesting)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447445)

I'm rather surprised they didn't mention the impact to battery design. If batteries could be designed at the atomic and molecular level, I imagine you could greatly improve their life.

Re:New Batteries? (2)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447791)

If batteries could be designed at the atomic and molecular level, I imagine you could greatly improve their life.

They already are; as are fuel cells. The final frontier is making them at the molecular level to power molecular sized machines, so I wouldn't go expecting better battery life from your Nano until it really is.

And I wanna see how Apple handles the interface to that.

KFG

Re:New Batteries? (1)

Wyrmy (916903) | more than 7 years ago | (#16448025)

...but batteries already have more life than me.

Re:New Batteries? (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | more than 7 years ago | (#16451623)

I wouldn't be so sure. We'll still see a lot of the 'use and discard' trend, so there's no reason to expect any major changes in the social aspect of battery life.

ZOMG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16447591)

Lasers pew pew

Obligatory Goonies Quote: (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 7 years ago | (#16447851)

Cool! Laser beams! Ra ta ta ta ta!

This is slashdot... (1)

LordEd (840443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16452489)

This article involves lasers. The proper obligatory quote in this situation involves sharks with frikken "lasers" on their heads.

So first the sharks "manipulate" his molecules, then use the lasers just to be sure?

Re:This is slashdot... (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16455013)

So first the sharks "manipulate" his molecules, then use the lasers just to be sure?

But how do you get the sharks in orbit first for the bombardment?

I'm a very untidy quantum mechanic. (3, Funny)

Slur (61510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16448035)

Take my quantum workbench. One minute my quantum spanner is there, then it's not there, then it's a superposition of there/not-there. And although my quantum computer has only 27 Qbits, all past and future quantum computers are already networking with it, and I get something like Aleph-One SPAM emails per day.

Re:I'm a very untidy quantum mechanic. (2)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16448373)

That's neat. Given that the bulk of your spam will be coming from future quantum computing machines ... can you tell us what products are being used to treat erectile dysfunction, say, a hundred years from now?

Re:I'm a very untidy quantum mechanic. (1)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 7 years ago | (#16453787)

Duke Nukem Forever is supposed to have a beneficial effect when it comes out.

light sabers (1)

hulloha (1014075) | more than 7 years ago | (#16448887)

If this doesn't lead to lightsaber/laser-sword develpment,or a super death ray then it's just not interesting. Lasers are so '60s sci-fi, anti-terrorist weapons are what's "in" right now

Re:light sabers (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16455155)

A light sword would be fairly useless, except perhaps as a construction tool, unless it comes with the correponding Force powers to deflect bullets.

And that's a whole can of worms you don't wanna open. Witness this tragedy:

"You don't want to be in this country."

"I don't want to be in this country."

"These aren't the terrorists you're looking for."

"These aren't the tairrists ah'm lookin' fer."

"You won't find nuclear WMDs here."

"I won't find nucyoolar WMDs here."

Free Online (3, Informative)

Soko (17987) | more than 7 years ago | (#16449623)

The article in science was where I caught this initially though it doesn't seem to be free anywhere online.

Google News has a few. [google.ca]

Soko

Enough with the "sharks" tags! (2, Informative)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#16450191)

Seriously, every story about lasers gets tagged "sharks". Austin Powers came out in 1997, so that tag was barely even funny the first time. It's time to move on.

Re:Enough with the "sharks" tags! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16451081)

That's exactly what Natalie Portman would say...unfortunately, she's petrified in Soviet Russia.

Re:Enough with the "sharks" tags! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16455447)

In Soviet Russia, Natalie Portman petrifies YOU!!!

Re:Enough with the "sharks" tags! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16455293)

> so that tag was barely even funny the first time. It's time to move on.

You've obviously never heard my 14 year old son do a flawless impersonation of the entire "sharks with friggin' laser beams!" routine, complete with "Remind me what I pay you people for. Honestly (slap desk) Throw me a bone here."

"I've got a whole bag of 'shhhhh' with your name on it."

And of course:

"Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen-year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy... the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical... summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent, I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds... pretty standard, really. At the age of twelve, I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum... it's breathtaking, I suggest you try it."

Worlds smallest car!! (1)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 7 years ago | (#16452125)

Personally, the only way this can impact me is if they can somehow use this to make a car smaller then this..."http://www.livescience.com/technology/0510 20_nanocar.html"

Dynamic Stark Effect (1)

hadhad69 (1003533) | more than 7 years ago | (#16452447)

Could some kind soul please explain this dynamic stark effect. I don't quite understand where the laser is having its effect, is it actually on the fabric of the quantum space?
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