Scientists are making incredible movies of molecules using X-rays


If you thought you knew what high-res slow-motion video looks like, think again.

Researchers have recently captured images of biomolecular activity so slowly and in such detail that, lined up into a movie, they can reveal the activity of atoms, conceivably allowing us to peer into the world of biology on the world’s smallest scale.

Using the most brilliant X-ray flashes on the planet, an international team of scientists is reporting in the journal Science that they were able to capture images spanning just 40 femtoseconds (one femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second), turning the blink of an eye into about a hundred million epic feature films. What’s more, they say they should be able to shorten the pulse duration further still, down to just a few femtoseconds.

They also achieved a resolution of 0.16 nanometers (a nanometer being a millionth of a millimeter), resulting in what they…

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