Attosecond physics studies processes that occur on a time scale of around 10-18 seconds. That’s 0.00000000000000001 seconds, which is to 1 second what a second is to the age of the universe.
Pulses of light with attosecond duration could be used to observe the motion of electrons or ionization processes in atoms. In a recent Fast Track Communication in JPhysB, researchers at the Joint Attosecond Laboratory – Chunmei Zhang, Giulio Vampa, D M Villeneuve and P B Corkum – demonstrate experimentally the generation of attosecond length pulses using the ‘attosecond lighthouse’ technique, which can be found here.
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Front image: spatial profile of the XUV beam, in the presence of spatial-chirp in the driving field, as a function of the CEP of the driving laser pulse, adapted from Chunmei Zhang et al 2015 J. Phys. B: At. Mol. Opt. Phys. 48 061001. Copyright IOP Publishing 2015.