Zeptoseconds: The New Measurement of Time Discovered by Physicists

Time is a very important aspect in almost every field and in everyone’s lives. A team of researchers have in the new series of experiments managed to record the time taken by an electron to leave the helium atom. The new measurement of time recorded in the experiment is 850 zeptoseconds with accuracy.

To understand the potential power of an atom it is required to record and analyse internal atomic event. It is on these lines, physicists have recently succeeded in recording the internal atomic event with an accuracy of a zeptosecond (a trillionth of a billionth of a second).

Such a measurement is the smallest division of time ever observed and recorded by humans.

The researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) have recorded the quick atomic event till date, which they referred to as ‘photoionization’. Photoionization refers to the leaving of an electron of the helium atom after it is struck by light.

The researchers from MPQ in the experiment have used ultraviolet light pulse one attosecond-long (10-18 seconds) to excite the electrons. Simultaneously, they have hit the atom with an infrared laser pulse for about four femtoseconds (one femtosecond equals 10-15 seconds).

The pulse used was able to detect and record the quickest atomic event with an accuracy rate up to 850 zeptoseconds (one zeptosecond equals 10-21 seconds).

Marcus Ossiander, the lead researcher have explained, “Using this information, we can measure the time it takes the electron to change its quantum state from the very constricted, bound state around the atom to the free state.” He further shared that the experiment was helpful in measuring how two electrons within the helium atom split the laser’s energy during the experiment.

Schultze stated, “the understanding of these processes within the helium atom provides us with a tremendously reliable basis for future experiments.”

A detailed analysis of how atoms work is important as it paves the way for innovation in fields like quantum computing, superconductivity, and nuclear power.


Shobith MAKAM Written by:

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