A Coreography for Two Electrons on the Stage

Article: published in Nature by Fernando Martín, IFIMAC researcher.

Physicists and chemists united break another frontier in the control of matter. For the first time, a Hispano-German team, led by Fernando Martín and Thomas Pfeifer, imaged the motion of the two electrons in the helium atom and managed to control their motion at will. They did so by combining flashes of extreme ultraviolet and visible laser light with a duration of only a few hundred attosecond (one attosecond corresponds to a billionth of a billionth of a second) and timed very accurately with respect to each other. Since the bonds between the different atoms forming molecules, from water to the DNA, result from the pairing of two electrons, control over the movement of pairs of electrons may revolutionize the whole field of chemistry, opening the way to the production of substances that could not be synthesized with conventional chemical processes. [Full article]