Pushing the Limits of Quantum Selectivity

Patricia Daukantas

An international research team has manipulated the pulse shapes of ultrafast lasers in order to distnguish between two molecules with identical absorption and emission spectra.

Scatterings imageThe 400-nm pulse shaper used to discover the optimally shaped UV pulse form.

If two molecules—for example, differing molecular species or isomers—have absorption and emission spectra that are indistinguishable with traditional spectroscopy, how do you tell them apart? By manipulating the pulse shapes of ultrafast lasers, an international research team found. In doing so, they amplified the slight differences between the molecules to create distinct signals. Their work has potential applications in biomedical imaging and spectroscopy.

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