Atomic movies reveal 'ultimate spring'

22 October 2013

An international team, including Oxford Physicists Professor Justin Wark and Dr Andrew Higginbotham, has used the powerful X-ray laser at the US Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to create atomic-scale movies of 'the ultimate spring'. They subjected a micron thick layer of copper to nearly a million atmospheres of pressure within a few tens of trillionths of a second, and used x-rays with a shutter speed of a tenth of a trillionth of a second to record the atomic motion under these extreme conditions. The work, published in Science, shows how the copper can react elastically even though the atoms are compressed together along one dimension by 17 percent. For further details, see