2023 Nobel Prize in Physics recognizes methods to generate attosecond pulses of light

Oct. 3, 2023
Congratulations to Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, and Anne L’Huillier, Nobel Laureates for their “experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter.”

The three newest Nobel Laureates in Physics are: Pierre Agostini, a physics professor at Ohio State University, Ferenc Krausz, a professor of experimental physics at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and director of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (both in Germany), and Anne L’Huillier, a professor of atomic physics at Lund University in Sweden (see video).

The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physics recognizes their work creating extremely short pulses of light, which can be used to measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy.

Fast-moving events flow into each other when perceived by humans, akin to the way a film that consists of still images is perceived as continual movement. If you want to explore blazingly fast events, it requires special technology. In the world of electrons, changes occur within a few tenths of an attosecond. For perspective, there are as many attoseconds in one second as there have been seconds since the birth of the universe.

The Laureates’ experiments produced pulses of light so short they are measured in attoseconds, which demonstrates these pulses can be used to provide images of processes inside atoms and molecules.

In 1987, L’Huillier discovered that many different overtones of light arose when she transmitted infrared laser light through a noble gas. Each overtone is a light wave with a given number of cycles for each cycle in the laser light. They are caused by laser light interacting with atoms in the gas—it gives some electrons extra energy that is then emitted as light. L’Huillier has continued to explore this phenomenon, which will lead to subsequent breakthroughs.

In 2001, Agostini succeeded in producing and exploring a series of consecutive light pulses, in which each pulse lasted just 250 attoseconds. At the same time, Krausz was working with another type of experiment that made it possible to isolate a single light pulse that lasted 650 attoseconds.

“We can now open the door to the world of electrons,” says Eva Olsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics. “Attosecond physics gives us the opportunity to understand mechanisms that are governed by electrons. The next step will be utilizing them.”

Many potential applications can benefit. In electronics, for example, it’s important to understand and control how electrons behave within a material. Attosecond pulses can also help identify different molecules for medical diagnostics.

About the Author

LFW Staff

Published since 1965, Laser Focus World—a brand and magazine for engineers, researchers, scientists, and technical professionals—provides comprehensive global coverage of optoelectronic technologies, applications, and markets. With 80,000+ qualified print subscribers in print and over a half-million annual visitors to our online content, we are the go-to source to access decision makers and stay in-the-know.

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

How to Tune Servo Systems: The Basics

April 10, 2024
Learn how to tune a servo system using frequency-based tools to meet system specifications by watching our webinar!

Precision Motion Control for Sample Manipulation in Ultra-High Resolution Tomography

April 10, 2024
Learn the critical items that designers and engineers must consider when attempting to achieve reliable ultra-high resolution tomography results here!

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!