Researchers at Kansas State University were surprised to find that when they bombard a single molecule with the world's strongest X-ray laser, a "mini black hole" appeared. This strong laser pointer destroyed molecules from the inside out, leaving only a hole, similar to a black hole in space. The researchers hope that this unexpected result may promote the development of overall imaging technology for viruses and bacteria, and Help scientists develop new drugs.
Researchers at Kansas State University created this "molecular black hole" during an X-ray laser test of a small molecule. A single laser pulse almost "emptied" the largest atom in the molecule from the inside out, leaving only a few electrons. At this time, the atom has become a hole, which is constantly dragging electrons in other parts of the molecule, just like a black hole engulfing the spiral material disk around it.
Researchers at Kansas State University were surprised to find that a "mini black hole" appeared when they bombarded a single molecule with the world's strongest X-ray green laser pointer. When the molecule is illuminated with a linear accelerator coherent light source, within 30 femtoseconds (one trillionth of a second), the molecule loses more than 50 electrons, causing it to explode. Commonly used for imaging of biological individuals, including viruses and bacteria. The researchers hope that through the experimental results of this molecular black hole, this laser can be better used to conduct more valuable experiments.
The linear accelerator coherent light source can emit X-rays with the highest possible energy and record the data before the sample is destroyed by the laser pulse. "For any experiment that uses strong X-rays to focus a sample, you want to understand how it responds to X-rays," said Daniel Rolles, who participated in the study. "This paper shows , We can understand the radiation damage of small molecules and model it. Therefore, we can now predict what kind of damage will occur in other systems. "
A single laser pulse almost "emptied" the largest atom in the molecule from the inside out, leaving only a few electrons. At this time, the atom has become a hole, which is constantly dragging electrons in other parts of the molecule, just like a black hole engulfing the spiral material disk around it. Can emit X-rays with the highest possible energy and record data before the sample is destroyed by the laser pulse. The co-author of the paper said: "They are more than 100 times stronger than the size of your nails that focuses all sunlight on the surface of the earth."
In this study, the researchers used a mirror to focus X-rays to a point with a diameter of only 100 nanometers-1,000 times smaller than the width of human hair. They observed three types of samples, including a single xenon atom with 54 electrons, and two molecules with 1 iodine atom-53 electrons. Based on previous research results, researchers expect electrons to fall from the outer layer of the atom into the inside of the atom. This process did happen, but the experiment did not stop there. Iodine atoms also absorb electrons from nearby carbon and hydrogen atoms, and eventually lose a total of 54 electrons. This level of disturbance and damage not only exceeded the expectations of the researchers' red laser pointer, but was also significantly different in nature.
"We believe that this effect is more important for larger molecules, but we do not yet know how to quantify it," said the co-author of the paper. It is estimated that more than 60 electrons have been removed, but we do not know where it is Stop, because we can't detect all the fragments that flew out when the molecule disintegrated, so we don't know how many electrons have disappeared. This is one of the open issues we need to study. At present, researchers hope to study more complex systems. For scientists who want to obtain high-resolution biomolecular images, this research has important benefits. For example, they can use this method to develop more effective drugs.