From glass flow to the rupture of a chemical bond:
Shining light on the ultraslow and the ultrafast

For years people have looked at 12th century medieval glass windows and determined that the reason some are thicker at the bottom is that over time gravity causes the glass to "flow" towards the bottom of the frame. In 1872 Leland Stanford offered Eadweard Muybridge, a world-famous photographer of landscapes, $25,000 to find the answer to a controversy raised in horse racing circles at the time: though most people believed that a horse always has one hoof in contact with the ground during the gallop, Stanford thought otherwise.
These are just examples, taken from urban legends and popular folklore, connected with processes which are too slow or too fast to be observed by the naked eye. Starting from these two cases, I will discuss the major hindrances to the study of ultraslow and ultrafast processes in nature, and how they can be circumvented. Taming the complex interaction of photons with matter, viscosities as large as exapoises can be measured, bond breaking and recombination events can be observed in real time at the molecular level, and the magnetic structure of a solid can be conveniently manipulated.

Short bio:

Tullio Scopigno receives a Ph.D. in Physics from University of Trento in 2001, focused on the microscopic dynamics of liquid metals. From 2001 to 2008 he holds a Researcher position at the INFM/CNR, which is tenured in 2004 and becomes permanent in 2008. During these years, his research interests are on glasses and the glass transition, and on liquids under extreme conditions, which he develops with extensive use of large scale facilities.
In 2007, after a short visit at Berkeley, he becomes interested in ultrafast dynamics and applies for the first ERC-Starting Grant call, which he receives in 2008. In the same year, he leaves CNR and gets a fixed term Assistant Professorship from University “Sapienza” in Rome, where he establishes an independent research group and a new laboratory for ultrafast processes in biomolecules and condensed matter.
More recently, he starts to work on advanced imaging techniques in collaboration with the Center for Life Nanoscience at the Italian Institute of Technology, where he is in charge of the laboratory for Coherent Vibrational Imaging.
Since 2013 is Associate Professor at the Physics Department of University “Sapienza” in Rome.