Scientists Measured the Shortest Known Unit of Time

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Scientists from Goethe University have been able to measure “the shortest unit of time” ever. The team calculated how quickly a photon could pass through a hydrogen molecule to make the measurement.

Physicist Reinhard Dörner of Goethe University in Germany and his colleagues were able to measure the “shortest unit of time” ever by measuring how quickly a photon could pass through a hydrogen molecule. This unit, called ‘zeptosecond’, is equivalent to a trillionth of a billionth of a second. In other words, 20 zeroes and one 1 after the decimal point.

In 2016, researchers were able to measure time to 850 zeptoseconds. In the new study, it is stated that 247 zeptoseconds can be measured. This means a tremendous increase in accuracy compared to one billionth of a second, femtosecond.

The shortest known unit of time was measured:

The time taken for chemical bonds to break and form is measured in femtoseconds, but zeptoseconds is used to measure how long it takes light to pass through a single hydrogen molecule. Atomic physicist Prof. Dr. The team, led by Reinhard Dörner, used X-rays from the particle accelerator PETRA III in Deutsch Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) for the experiment.

In 1999, Egyptian chemist Ahmed Zewail received a Nobel Prize for measuring the rate at which molecules change their shape. With the latest study, Professor Dörner and the Goethe University atomic physicists in his team were for the first time able to measure a unit of time shorter than femtoseconds in magnitude.

In the experiment, it was calculated how long a single photon or particle of light would switch between the electrons of two hydrogen molecules. The interaction created a wave model that the team could measure using a tool called the COLTRIMS reaction microscope.

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The tool used is known as a very sensitive particle detector that can record extremely fast atomic and molecular reactions. Using the tool, the team determined the time required for the light particle to pass through the hydrogen molecule to 247 zeptoseconds.


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