A Sharjah physics professor who was recently awarded a $60,000 (Dh220,386) grant by a Kuwaiti development fund will set off to Germany this month in pursuit of a physicist's dream.Dr Ali Al Naser, associate professor of physics at the American University of Sharjah, and a team of collaborators will attempt to control the outcomes of chemical reactions.
"In my research we will try to use advanced lasers with short and strong pulses to interact with constituents of matter [atoms and molecules]," he said."If we manage to understand how these constituents behave we hope we will be able to later control their destiny."
If successful, he added, the implications of controlling the way matter reacts could, for example, result in controlling the outcomes of nuclear reactions and turn toxic waste into useful material.Al Naser was named a Distinguished Scholar by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. The amount awarded to him will serve as a grant to cover his living costs for a year-long sabbatical he has taken to conduct his research in Germany.
His project is titled Probing and Manipulating Ultra Fast Processes in Hydrocarbons Using Ultra Short Laser Pulses. The research will be conducted jointly between the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.
"Such a possibility is like the ultimate dream of physicists and chemists, not only to watch but guide a chemical reaction and attain certain outcomes," he said.
"If successful such a process could have many applications in the fields of environmental science, healthcare, security, engineering and many more."
Dr Al Naser said put simply the process is an attempt to control the very sophisticated interactions between light — in this case lasers — and matter — the atoms and molecules — in their own natural time scale.He added the study of hydrocarbons in relation to using the newly developed laser probes could turn wasteful chemicals, produced during the petroleum refining process, into useful material.
"This research, if successful, could be applied to the Gulf region's oil industry because during the oil refining process there are chemicals that are desirable and others that are less useful," he said."If we can successfully manage to get these less useful chemicals to interact with laser pulses then they could be fragmented into something useful."
Dr Al Naser and his team need to spend many gruelling hours tucked away in the laboratory to perfect such a delicate process."The difficulty in these experiments and exercises to control such outcomes is that things happen so fast," he said.
"However, in order to be able to follow electrons and atoms we need to use a new laser."
From / Gulf News