Quenching the quiver

Photoelectric effect

I here note a recently published Nature paper, and not least owing to its splendid title: “Field-driven photoemission from nanostructures quenches the quiver motion”. The subject of the study is the photoelectric effect originally discovered by Albert Einstein, and for which the great relativist and not so great fiddle player won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

In their paper, physicist Georg Herink and his Göttingen colleagues present a ‘neo-classical’ take on the phenomenon that defies the predictions of standard classical physics. Einstein explained the effect as being due to the combined particle and wave nature of light.

Extreme limits of the classical and quantum mechanical interaction of light with material surfaces have been observed on nanometre-scale structures that enhance the intensity of emitted photo-electrons at certain visible wavelengths. The Göttingen researchers, led by Claus Ropers, have built on this work, and established new constraints on the manipulation and control of electron dynamics on ultrafast timescales.

This is hard core experimental physics, and Herink’s paper is unlikely to be comprehensible to the unanointed. Potential benefits include new applications in spectroscopy.