Armed with funding from the Army Research Lab, researchers at the University of Central Florida recently generated what is being called the shortest light pulse ever developed: a 53-attosecond pulse. (An attosecond is to 10−18 seconds.) This beats the team’s previous record of a 67-attosecond extreme UV light pulse set in 2012.
Attosecond light pulses let scientists capture images of fast-moving electrons in atoms and molecules with unprecedented sharpness, which will help in understanding the dynamics of atoms and molecules and allowing observations of how molecules form and how electrons in atoms and molecules behave. Overall, research in attosecond pulses will enable advancements in solar panels; logic and memory chips for mobile phones and computers; and for the military, electronics and sensors, as well as threat identification. It also is predicted to open new doors in spectroscopy, allowing for the identification of harmful substances and explosive residue.