PerspectiveApplied Physics

X-ray Movies of Wiggling Crystals

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Science  03 Dec 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5702, pp. 1691-1692
DOI: 10.1126/science.1106755

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When materials are illuminated with a laser, the atoms in the material move very slightly. In his Perspective, Bucksbaum explains how such motions can be characterized in detail with the use of ultrafast x-ray diffraction. The author highlights the report by Bargheer et al., who have studied layered semiconductor structures called multiple quantum wells with this technique. The work sheds light on the mechanism of excitation and paves the way for studies of chemical and solid-state dynamics in many other materials.