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Is there a sensor to detect a force lasting 10^-17 sec?

  1. Feb 9, 2015 #1
    I'm designing an experiment in which I have to detect the forces exerted by alpha particles on a gold foil as they travel through it and are deflected by it. The forces I'm trying to detect range between 50-500 dynes and last approximately 10^-17 seconds. There should be several hundred of these forces exerted each second.
    Does anyone know of a sensor that would be able to detect these forces?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 10, 2015 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Welcome to PF;
    There probably are - though you would be detecting the change in momentum. The time of the "impact" lasting somewhat longer than the interaction due to relaxation times etc. Imagine detecting baseball strikes using a mattress spring.

    http://www.research.cornell.edu/KIC/events/MRFM2006/pdfs/Marohn.tut.rev1.pdf [Broken]

    Have a talk to scientific instrument suppliers.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  4. Feb 10, 2015 #3


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    Ballistic energy is measured by firing a bullet into a pendulum weight and recording the angle of swing. That down-converts the very short impulse to a much slower movement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_pendulum

    Consider mounting the gold foil on a damped ultrasonic tuning fork. When the 10–17 second impulse impacts the foil it will cause a damped oscillation. You might then measure the displacement of the foil with a capacitance probe.
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