Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Light oscillations become visible

30.08.2004


Austrian-German research team demonstrates for the first time an attosecond "oscilloscope" rendering the hyper-fast field oscillations of visible light


Fig. 1: Energy shift (in units of eV) suffered by an attosecond electron probe set free at different instants (measured in units of fs) in an intense wave consisting of only a few cycles of red light. Image: Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics / Technical University Vienna


Fig. 2: Build-up and disappearance of the electric field in the 4.3-fs pulse of red light (wavelength ~ 750nm), as recorded by the attosecond oscilloscope. Image: Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics / Technical University Vienna



The human eye can detect changes in the intensity of light, not however the wavelength because light oscillates too fast (approximately 1000 trillion times per second). An international collaboration led by Ferenc Krausz and made up of researchers from the Vienna University of Technology, the Max-Planck-Institute for Quantum Optics and the University of Bielefeld have recently succeeded in developing a technique which can measure the instantaneous electric field of red light (quarter period ~ 620 attoseconds) and record its variation with a resolution of 100 attoseconds (Science, August 27, 2004). The experiment of the Austrian-German team allowed the first direct visualization of the electric field of visible light and constitutes the fastest measurement to date.

It has been known since the famous experiments of Heinrich Hertz near the end of the 19th century that light is a wave consisting of electric and magnetic fields, just as radio waves and microwaves. The only difference is in the number of times these fields change their direction in a second. In radio and microwaves this happens typically millions to trillions times per second. The field variation in these waves can be readily detected by turning it into electric current and displaying the variation of this current in electronic instruments called oscilloscopes.


In striking contrast, the electromagnetic field of visible light changes direction approx. one thousand trillion, i.e. 1 000 000 000 000 000, times per second, so that the instantaneous intensity of the light field varies from zero to maximum faster than a femtosecond (1 femtosecond being one thousandth of a trillionth of a second), some ten thousand times more rapidly than the resolution of the fastest electronic instruments available to date. Recording the field variation of visible light calls for an oscilloscope that exhibits a temporal resolution of several hundred attoseconds (1 attosecond being a thousandth of a femtosecond). The researchers recently succeeded in developing a technique which can measure the instantaneous electric field of red light (quarter period ~ 620 attoseconds) and record its variation with a resolution of 100 attoseconds.

The key to this measurement was the generation of single 250-attosecond extreme ultraviolet pulses, a feat achieved by the same collaboration a few months ago (Nature, February 26, 2004). The attosecond extreme ultraviolet pulse knocks electrons free from atoms to probe the electric field of a wave consisting of only a few cycles of red laser light. The electric field of red light accelerated or decelerated the electrons set free with respect to the light wave with a 100-attosecond timing precision. The change in the electrons’ energy (shown in units of electron volts, eV, in Fig. 1), measured as a function of delay (shown in units of femtoseconds, fs, in Fig. 1) between the attosecond pulse and the laser light wave clearly exhibits the build-up and disappearance of the laser pulse within a few femtoseconds as well as oscillations with a period of the 2.5-fs wave cycle of 750-nm (red) light. The measured energy change directly yields the variation of the instantaneous strength and direction of the electric field of the few-cycle light wave (Fig. 2).

The red line in Fig. 2 depicts the electric field of a few-femtosecond flash of red light, as recorded by an apparatus that can be regarded as the first attosecond oscilloscope. The new technique permits direct and accurate measurement of ultrabroad-band light pulses (made up of many different colours), and thereby opens the door to the reproducible synthesis of ultrashort flashes of light with arbitrary waveform for a number of applications including the development of molecular electronics and X-ray lasers.

Dr. Bernd Wirsing | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>