Ralph Jimenez was awarded a Department of Commerce Gold Medal on September 26, 2017, at DOC headquarters in Washington, D.C. Jimenez was part of a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) team that recently developed and produced X-ray movies of molecules. The team developed the research tools to make stop-action X-ray measurements of light interacting with molecules on near instantaneous time scales.
Jimenez and his team used an innovative table-top system that produced results with 10 times better resolution than what is available at large X-ray synchrotron facilities costing hundreds of millions of dollars. The team also collected X-rays with its new system with 10-to-100 times better efficiency. The new system is expected to make it possible to perform rapid turn-around measurements of materials for photonics, energy storage, and industrial catalysis.
The team’s goal was to create the world’s first laboratory-scale tool capable of measuring ultrafast motions of atoms and electrons during light-driven chemical reactions. The team’s new understanding this dynamic behavior is expected to spur the design of molecules for a variety of research and industrial applicatons.
The remarkable new system replicates capabilities found at multimillion-dollar user facilities at a fraction of the cost. Its novel laser-driven source creates ultrashort X-ray pulses safely and reliably. This powerful new tool is significantly more accessible and affordable than large national facilities. It is compact and fits on two laboratory benches. Astonishingly, it can distinguish events within six trillionths of a second, a feat that is ten times better than synchrotrons.
This new capability is already transforming the nation’s X-ray metrology infrastructure. Congratulations to Dr. Jimenez and his team!