Physicists who built ultrafast ‘attosecond’ lasers win the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physics
At Amplitude, we are very proud that ultrafast lasers have once again been honored with the Nobel Prize in Physics, and even prouder that some of our products and team members have made modest contributions to this outstanding achievement.
Congratulations to Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, and Anne L’Huillier, the three Nobel Laureates in Physics recognized for experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter. They have demonstrated a way to create and measure extremely short pulses of light that can be used to observe the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy. Read the press release
This award comes 5 years after the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Donna Strickland and Gerard Mourou for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses, demonstrating once again the major contribution of ultrafast lasers in the advancement of fundamental physics.
Amplitude and Fastlite (a recent acquisition) provided some of the stepping stones that contributed to the experiments, which is a major source of satisfaction.
We take immense pride in the fact that some of Amplitude’s colleagues were lucky enough to work closely with two of the laureates before joining Amplitude, namely Pierre-Mary Paul, Director of Science Grands Projets, and Yoann Zaouter, Segment Line Manager Science & Industrial Ytterbium Laser Solutions.
“I’m delighted and very grateful to have taken part in such a scientific and human adventure. I have modestly contributed to this work as part of my PhD thesis under the supervision of Pierre Agostini and am extremely grateful for his mentorship. At that time, the very first measurement of a 250-attosecond pulse train was carried out using the RABBIT method (reference). I am extremely happy these three Physicists have been recognized for their extraordinary careers” explains Pierre-Mary Paul, Amplitude Director of Science Grands Projets.
“Our ultrafast lasers are installed in the largest international laboratories, and our team includes world-class scientific and technical experts who are part of the broader scientific community. I’m extremely proud that Amplitude is at the heart of the most advanced research and helps tackle the major challenges of our time” says Damien Buet, C.E.O. at Amplitude.
Creating extremely short pulses of light that can be used to measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy can provide various advantages and be used in diverse applications:
- Analysis of Ultrafast Processes: Ultrashort light pulses, measured in femtoseconds (1 femtosecond = 10^-15 seconds) or attoseconds (1 attosecond = 10^-18 seconds), enable the observation and measurement of phenomena occurring within very short timeframes. This includes processes such as electronic transitions, rapid chemical reactions, and electron motion in atoms and molecules.
- High Temporal Resolution: Short light pulses offer extremely high temporal resolution, enabling precise insights into the dynamics of the studied processes. This is crucial for understanding the fundamental mechanisms of physical and chemical phenomena.
- Ultrafast Imaging: These pulses are used to create real-time images of dynamic processes, such as electron scattering, changes in molecular structure, or electron motion in materials, which is valuable in various scientific and industrial applications.
- Study of Matter at the Atomic Scale: Ultrashort pulses are essential for probing matter at atomic and subatomic scales. They allow researchers to follow how electrons move and interact, which is vital in areas like material physics, quantum chemistry, structural biology, and nanotechnology research.
- Applications in Spectroscopy: Ultrashort light pulses are also used in spectroscopy to investigate the spectral properties of matter, including absorption, emission, and scattering spectra. They provide detailed information about electronic energy levels and transitions between these levels.
- Control and Manipulation Mechanisms: These pulses are employed to control and influence ultrafast processes, which can have practical applications in nonlinear optics, optical communication, harmonic and frequency generation, as well as material manipulation.
In summary, extremely short pulses of light are essential tools for exploring and understanding ultrafast phenomena occurring at the subatomic level. Their use has significant impact in fundamental research, technology, materials science, and various other scientific and industrial fields.