43 seconds! The world's laser pulse breakthrough in the shortest time

Recently, researchers at the ETH in Zurich successfully shortened the pulse duration of X-ray lasers to 43 attoseconds. For the first time in the range of the second-decade time resolution (10-18 seconds), they observed the movement of electrons during a slow chemical reaction.

Thomas Gaumnitz, postdoctoral researcher at the ETH Zurich research group, used the device to produce the world's shortest laser pulse

In atomic motion, scientists are typically able to study all motions of atoms and molecules within their basic time frame. The range of molecular rotation is on the order of picoseconds (10-12 seconds), the range of their atomic vibrations is on the order of femtoseconds (10-15 seconds) and the range of electron movements is on the order of ten seconds (10-18 seconds).

In this study, researchers obtained soft X-ray laser pulses with very wide spectral bandwidth from infrared lasers. Therefore, by exciting the inner shell electrons we can directly observe various elements including phosphorus and sulfur. Both of these elements are found in biomolecules and can now be viewed with unprecedented temporal resolution.

It is understood that the second laser spectrometer is not only suitable for observation, but also can directly manipulate chemical reactions. The use of laser pulses can change the course of the reaction - and even destroy the chemical bonds by stopping charge transfer somewhere in the molecule. In the past, targeted interventions in this chemical reaction were not possible because the magnitude of the time of electron movement in the molecule was not achieved before.

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