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Understanding how matter creates life requires observing living cells with atomic detail. There are many ways to do so, but one possibility has been gaining significant attention in recent years: observing the scattering of electrons on the molecules. The advantage of this technique is its higher energy, which makes it possible to investigate deeper into a sample and to identify smaller structures. Electron diffraction holds great application potential both in research and industry.
The Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and Advanced Accelerator Technologies (AAT), a member company of PARK INNOVAARE, invite both academia and industry to join their workshop “Novel Accelerators for Electron Diffraction” to learn more about the technique and its potential and to help evaluate the requirements for its electron source. To find out more about the goals and aspirations of the workshop, we interviewed two of its organizers, Dr. Rasmus Ischebeck, physicist at PSI, and Dr. Jens Rehanek, CEO of AAT.
PARK INNOVAARE: What’s the main idea of this workshop?
Dr. Rasmus Ischebeck: We want to get an overview of the present state of electron diffraction, and to evaluate the areas in which novel acceleration techniques could drive research in this field.
What field of research will profit from the outcome of this workshop?
Dr. Jens Rehanek: Electron diffraction has applications in structural chemistry and biology – for example, it helps determine the structure of molecules. Also, the research on electron diffraction has huge importance for pharmaceutical research. Another field that could benefit is time-resolved studies, where researchers study the interactions of molecules as they react.
Who should attend the workshop on electron diffraction?
Dr. Rasmus Ischebeck: We are expecting scientists and specialists from four areas: accelerator physicists, laser physicists who are interested in novel accelerator techniques, scientists who use electron diffraction, and industrial users of electron diffraction.
What will be the benefits of this workshop for attendees?
Dr. Jens Rehanek: There will be an enormous benefit for participants from the industry who can use electron diffraction to determine the structure of molecules – for example, in pharmaceutical research and in the chemical industry. Basically, we can say that with this workshop, we are bringing together scientists from universities and research laboratories with scientists who work in the industry.
What exactly is electron diffraction?
Dr. Rasmus Ischebeck: Electron and X-ray diffraction describes what happens when a coherent beam of electrons or photons, respectively, interacts with matter. Due to the wave nature of the beam, a very specific pattern forms behind the object, which scientists use to reconstruct the precise shape of the molecules in the object. Examples for diffraction, the ones using visible light, include the iridescence of some butterflies and the hologram on your credit card.