Scientists have generated the fastest and shortest light pulse, that will help capture sharper-than-ever images of fast-moving electrons and enable advancements in smartphone and computer technologies. The 53-attosecond pulse, achieved by researchers at the University of Central Florida in the US, beats the team’s previous record of a 67-attosecond extreme ultraviolet light pulse set in 2012. Attosecond light pulses allow scientists to capture images of fast-moving electrons in atoms and molecules with unprecedented sharpness, enabling advancements in solar panel technology, logic and memory chips for mobile phones and computers, and in the military in terms of increasing the speed of electronics and sensors, as well as threat identification.
“This is the shortest laser pulse ever produced. It opens new doors in spectroscopy, allowing the identification of pernicious substances and explosive residue,” said Rich Hammond from the US Army Research Office (ARO). Hammond noted that this achievement is also a new and very effective tool to understand the dynamics of atoms and molecules, allowing observations of how molecules form and how electrons in atoms and molecules behave.
“This can also be extended to condensed matter systems, allowing unprecedented accuracy and detail of atomic, molecular, and even phase, changes,” Hammond said. “This sets the stage for many new kinds of experiments, and pushes physics forward with the ability to understand matter better than ever before,” he said.