Controlling the Motion of Complex Molecules and Particles (COMOTION)

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COMOTION will enable novel experiments that investigate the intrinsic properties of large molecules, including biological samples like proteins, viruses, and small cells, in unprecendented detail.

Recent advances in X-ray free-electron laser have enabled the observation of near-atomic-resolution structures in diffraction before-destruction experiments, for instance, of isolated mimiviruses and of proteins from microscopic crystals. The goal to record molecular movies with spatial and temporal atomic-resolution (femtoseconds and picometers) on individual molecules is near. Furthermore, the investigation of ultrafast, sub-femtosecond electron dynamics in small molecules is providing first results. Its extension to large molecules promises the unraveling of charge migration and energy transport in complex (bio)molecular systems. Novel matter-wave experiments with large molecules are testing the limits of quantum mechanics, particle-wave duality, and coherence. Extending these metrology experiments to larger systems will widen our understanding of the underlying physics whilst also allowing the precise measurement of molecular properties.

The principal obstacle for these and similar experiments across the molecular sciences is the controlled production of identical samples of individual molecules in the gas phase.

Within the COMOTION project we will overcome these shortcommings and focus our research efforts on four key areas.

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Funded through an ERC Consolidator Grant 2013 (ERC-CoG 614507-COMOTION)