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Filming atoms to revolutionize technology, new ERC at Ca ‘Foscari

Stefano Bonetti since November 2018 is an associate professor at Ca ‘Foscari (photo by Andrea Avezzù)

Filming atoms to revolutionize technology, new ERC at Ca ‘Foscari

Shoot the shortest film in history : one millionth of a billionth of a second. Just the time to see how the orientation of nanoscopic magnets changes, with a resolution of one millionth of a millimeter.

It is the scientific frontier to which the physicist Stefano Bonetti , neocafoscarino professor at the Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems of Ca ‘Foscari and the Physics Department of the University of Stockholm, with the Magnetic Speed ​​Limit project , financed with almost 2 million euros from the European Research Council (Erc) of the European Commission.

To achieve ultra-fast speed by photographing such a small object, it will need huge devices, free electron lasers , new-generation research infrastructures capable of generating powerful X-ray flashes.

The accelerator tunnel at the XFEL in Hamburg © European XFEL / Heiner Müller-Elsner

Opening the doors to Bonetti and his team will be the European XFEL in Hamburg , an infrastructure that went into operation in 2017, cost 1.2 billion euros and has a 3.4-kilometer long straight underground tunnel where electrons are accelerated and ‘fired’ flash at a rate of 27 thousand per second. Some experiments will be carried out also in Italy, at Sincrotone di Trieste, home of Fermi FEL .

Moreover, in the laser laboratory of the Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems, an ultra-fast “table” laser system will be installed to perform experiments that, together with X-ray measurements, will be able to give an overview of the fundamental nature of magnetism .

“Having an idea and being able to put it to the test in these cutting-edge laboratories is a great satisfaction for those who, like me, like to experiment to discover something new about a fundamental physical phenomenon such as magnetism – says the newfound cafoscarino. The goal of our experiments is to study magnetism by observing it at speed and with previously unimaginable resolution “.

A basic research that could revolutionize the information technology: “Today the data of humanity are preserved and digitally exploited thanks to magnetic supports – Bonetti explains – our studies could allow the development of new technologies to manage information in a faster way and more efficient from the energy point of view “.

PhD in Physics in Stockholm, Bonetti began his research as a postdoc at Stanford in 2012 and then returned to research in Sweden. He has been an associate professor at the University of Stockholm since 2017, when he started the project “Understanding the speed limits of magnetism”. From November 2018 Bonetti divides its research activity between Stockholm and Venice.

“I chose Ca ‘Foscari – he says – because it is a university that has shown in recent years a willingness to invest in research uncommon not only in the Italian scene, but with few even at the European level”.

source: Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

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