A scientist who took the Class XII board examination from his home, cleared IIT-JEE, did an integrated BS-MS degree from the Indian Institute of Science, Education & Research, Kolkata (IISER-K) and is now a senior scientist at Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Germany, has, along with the institute’s director, designed a microscope that can pave the way for light-wave electronics, which is millions of times faster than current-generation computers.
The ultra-fast microscope, which Indian physicist Manish Garg and German physical chemist Klaus Kern have developed, can record extremely fast processes that take place in attoseconds. An attosecond is a billionth of one billionth of a second. “This microscope, a sort of HD camera for the quantum world, allows the precise tracking of electron movements down to the individual atom. It should provide useful insights when it comes to developing extremely fast and extremely small electronic components for computers or smartphones,” Garg explained.
The breakthrough development has been published in the January 24 issue of the prestigious ‘Science’ journal.
The processes taking place in the quantum world represent a challenge for even the most experienced physicists. Apart from the processes happening extremely quickly inside the increasingly powerful components of computers or smartphones, they also happen within a very confined space. When it comes to analyzing these processes and optimizing transistors, videos of the electrons would be of great benefit to physicists.
“Earlier, an attosecond image delivered only a snapshot of an electron against what was essentially a blurred background. The new microscope that has been developed makes it possible for researchers to identify precisely where the filmed electron is located down to the individual atom,” said Garg.
Filming electrons in molecules live, and on their natural spatial and temporal scale, is vital in order to understand chemical reactivity, and the conversion of light energy within charged particles, such as electrons or ions, explained Kern.
With the new technique, physicists can now measure exactly where electrons are at a specific time down to the individual atom and to an accuracy of a few hundred attoseconds. This can be used in molecules that have had an electron catapulted out of them by a high-energy pulse of light, leading the remaining negative charge carriers to rearrange themselves and possibly causing the molecule to enter into a chemical reaction with another molecule.
In present day computers, electrons oscillate at a frequency of a billion hertz. Using ultra-short light pulses, it may be possible to increase their frequency to a trillion hertz. With this turbo booster for light waves, researchers could clear the way for light-wave electronics.
Garg, who was born in Barachh in Madhya Pradesh’s Shahdol, studied till Class X at Ramakrishna Vivekanand Vidyapith, Kapildhara in Bijuri, MP. The school was 16-km away from his home. Due to the absence of a higher secondary school nearby, he dropped out and appeared for Class XII as a private candidate.
He then cleared the IIT-JEE in 2007 but opted for IISER-K to pursue his keen interest in basic sciences. Garg did his PhD at Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Munich from 2012 to 2017. After two years of post-doctoral research, he is currently a group leader (senior scientist) at Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart.
Source: Times of India