A research team at the University of Central Florida has demonstrated the fastest light pulse ever developed, a 53-attosecond X-ray flash.
Team beat its own record set in 2012: a 67-attosecond extreme ultraviolet light pulse that was the fastest at the time.
At one-quintillionth of a second, an attosecond is unimaginably fast. In 53 attoseconds, light travels less than one-thousandth of the diameter of a human hair.
In the same way high-speed cameras can record slow-motion video of flying bullets, attosecond light pulses allow scientists to capture images of fast-moving electrons in atoms and molecules with unprecedented sharpness.
Producing attosecond X-rays requires a new type of high power driver: femtosecond lasers with a long wavelength.