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Ultrashort laser technology probes photosynthesis

A team of researchers at the University of Chicago has used 2D electronic spectroscopy to simulate the behaviour of photosynthetic structures found in plants. The research aims to lay the groundwork for future development of more energy efficient solar energy devices.

The electronic spectroscopy setup used MIIPS laser pulse characterisation and compression technology from Biophotonic Solutions Inc. (BSI), a provider of automated laser pulse compression solutions.

Using the 2D electronic spectroscopy technique, the researchers were able to establish that clear quantum mechanical signatures are found in electronically coupled molecules that simulate the photosynthetic structures. Furthermore, they observed and measured the lifetime of these quantum effects.

The experiments both probed the underlying quantum mechanics of photosynthesis and showed that these qualities can be engineered into synthetic models.

The 2D electronic spectroscopy method required pairs of phase-coherent ultrashort laser pulses to be delivered to the sample reliably. The researchers used BSI's MIIPS technology-based FemtoJock pulse shaping system to compress the pulses to just 11 femtoseconds. The FemtoJock system provides automated ultrafast laser pulse measurement, compression, and shaping in real time, ensuring that optimised laser pulses are ready when users need them.

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