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Just An Attosecond

The latest research in atomic clocks, attosecond laser experiments, and ultracold neutral plasmas were among the featured topics at the 2006 annual meeting of the APS Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics. The DAMOP meeting took place May 16-20 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Attosecond pulse

One of the featured speakers was Prof. Joachim Burgdörfer from the Institute for Theoretical Physics at TU Vienna. He gave an invited presentation of ultrashort atomic processes.

Attosecond pulses of light can be generated via the nonlinear interactions between an intense, ultrashort laser pulse and a gas of atoms, via the process of high harmonic generation.

Scientists can now generate attosecond electromagnetic pulses of sufficiently short duration to approach the orbital period of a classical atomic electron. "This means we may be able to map out the electronic dynamics inside atoms in real time", says Joachim Burgdörfer.