Nanoshocks are tiny but powerful laser-driven shock waves that can be used to produce large-amplitude compression in molecular materials on the picosecond time scale. When coupled with ultrafast molecular spectroscopy, the molecular response to nanoshocks can be probed in detail. Simple molecular systems (anthracene crystals) are used to characterize the nanoshock pulses. Well-characterized nanoshocks are used to study complex phenomena such as shock-induced chemical reactions, shock-induced orientation of energetic solids, and shock compression of organic polymers and proteins.
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