Tracking electrons with attosecond lasers

Physicist Giuseppe Sansone uses ultrashort light pulses to investigate how electrons move in molecules.

The electrons in atoms and molecules move incredibly fast. Put simply, an electron in a hydrogen atom orbits the nucleus of an atom once in around 152 attoseconds. By comparison, a million trillion attoseconds pass in one second. Physicists use special lasers to track the rapid movements of electrons. These emit light pulses that are only a few attoseconds long. The images taken with such lasers can then be used to compile films of the electron paths, just like a flip book.

Giuseppe Sansone’s research group at the University of Freiburg uses this technique to better understand chemical reactions. In this video, Sansone and postdoctoral researcher Dr Dominik Ertel provide a peek into their lab and explain what they hope to gain from their research over the long run.