The Royal Swedish Academy of Science on Tuesday announced that the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier for their work in “experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter.”
The three scientists were awarded their prize for their experiments, which according to the academy, gave humanity new tools to explore the world of electrons inside atoms and molecules. Agostini, Krausz and L’Huiller developed a new way to create extremely short pulses of light that can be used to measure the rapid processes by which electrons move or change energy.
For the human perception, multiple consecutive fast-moving events flow into what seems like continuous events. Think about watching a movie. What you are actually seeing is 24 frames of pictures moving in fast succession in a second. But your brain perceives it as a moving picture. Just like that, in the world of electrons, changes happen in a few tenths of an attosecond. The attosecond is so short that there are as many attoseconds in a second as there have been seconds since the universe was born.
The new Nobel laureates’ experiments helped produce pulses of light so short that they can be measured in attoseconds. This means that the pulses can be used to provide images of the processes inside atoms and molecules.
L’Huille,r in 1987, discovered that there are many different “overtones” of light when infrared laser light is transmitted through a noble gas. She continued to explore this phenomenon since then, laying the groundwork for the other breakthroughs.
Agostini, in 2001, was successful in producing and investigating a series of consecutive light pulses, with each lasting just 250 attoseconds. Around the same time, Krausz was working with another type of experiment that made it possible to isolate a single light pulse that lasted 650 attoseconds.
Source: Indian Express