Acquired Electronics360


New Record Set for Fastest Light Pulse

07 August 2017

A team of researchers from the University of Central Florida has developed a 53-attosecond X-ray flash, the fastest light pulse ever developed. The group, led by Professor Zenghu Chang, beat its own record set in 2012. At that time at 67-attosecond extreme ultraviolet light pulse was the fastest light pulse.

University of Central Florida professor Zenghu Chang broke the record for the fastest light pulse. (Image credit: University of Central Florida)University of Central Florida professor Zenghu Chang broke the record for the fastest light pulse. (Image credit: University of Central Florida)

An attosecond is one-quintillionth of a second — that’s fast. In 53 attoseconds, light travels less than one-thousandth of the diameter of a human hair.

Attosecond light pulses allow scientists to capture images of fast-moving electrons in atoms molecules with unprecedented, similar to the way high-speed cameras record slow-motion video of flying bullets.

In his research, Chang has now demonstrated pulses that are shorter in duration and wavelength than ever before. The new light reaches an important spectral region called the “water window” where carbon atoms absorb strongly but water doesn't.

"Such attosecond soft X-rays could be used to shoot slow-motion video of electrons and atoms of biological molecules in living cells to, for instance, improve the efficiency of solar panels by better understanding how photosynthesis works," said Chang, a UCF Trustee Chair Professor in CREOL, The College of Optics & Photonics, and the Department of Physics. Chang is the director of the Institute for the Frontiers of Attosecond Science and Technology (iFAST), located in the Physics Department, where the experiments were carried out.

X-rays interact with tightly bound electrons in the matter and might reveal which electrons move in which atoms, providing another way to study fast processes in materials with chemical element specificity. This capability is invaluable for the development of next-generation logic and memory chips for mobile phones and computers that are much faster than those in use today.

Producing the attosecond X-rays requires a new type of high power driver: a femtosecond laser with a long wavelength.

To contact the author of this article, email [email protected]

Powered by CR4, the Engineering Community

Discussion – 0 comments

By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and Terms of Use.
Engineering Newsletter Signup
Get the Engineering360
Stay up to date on:
Features the top stories, latest news, charts, insights and more on the end-to-end electronics value chain.
Weekly Newsletter
Get news, research, and analysis
on the Electronics industry in your
inbox every week - for FREE
Sign up for our FREE eNewsletter


Date Event Location
18-22 Jun 2018 Honolulu, Hawaii
12-16 Aug 2018 Vancouver, Canada
11-13 Sep 2018 Novi, Michigan
27 Sep 2018 The Reef, Los Angeles
26 Oct 2018 Old Billingsgate
Find Free Electronics Datasheets