Strobe Light Breaks the Attosecond Barrier

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Science  01 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5522, pp. 1627-1628
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5522.1627b

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On page 1689 of this issue, physicists report creating the fastest strobe light ever made, with individual pulses lasting just 220 attoseconds, or 220 billionths of a billionth of a second. These unimaginably short pulses are the first to be confirmed as breaking the attosecond barrier, a goal of high-speed-laser researchers for nearly a decade. Such pulses may one day serve as an ultrafast camera, allowing researchers to freeze action and perhaps to spot the gyrations of individual electrons whirling around an atomic nucleus.