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Electrons are tiny particles that hold together the atoms in molecules. When sunlight interacts with a molecule, it first transfers its energy to the electrons. Then, as the electrons move, the molecule changes form, reshaping itself or even breaking apart. We do not fully understand how electrons affect the molecules to which they belong because it is very hard to catch them in action. Electrons move incredibly quickly, and they behave according to the peculiar laws of quantum mechanics. But now, we can follow the motion of electrons using SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source, an accelerator that can make pulses of X-rays that are shorter than one millionth of a billionth of a second. In this lecture, I will explain how this one-of-a-kind tool allows us to watch speedy electrons as they move.
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