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Three Scientists Win Physics Nobel for Study of Electrons During Split Seconds

Three Scientists Win Physics Nobel for Study of Electrons During Split Seconds

Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier. Photo: Niklas Elmehed/Nobel Institute

What’s the name of the prize?

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2023.

Who has won the prize?

Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier.

What have they won the prize for?

For experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter.

In a press release, the Nobel Institute said that the laureates are being recognised for their experiments which have given humanity “new tools for exploring the world of electrons inside atoms and molecules”. Agostini, Krausz and L’Huillier have “demonstrated a way to create extremely short pulses of light that can be used to measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy”, the release says.

The laureates’ experiments have produced pulses of light so short that they are measured in attoseconds, thus demonstrating that these pulses can be used to provide images of processes inside atoms and molecules.

In 1987, Anne L’Huillier discovered that many different overtones of light arose when she transmitted infrared laser light through a noble gas. Each overtone is a light wave with a given number of cycles for each cycle in the laser light. They are caused by the laser light interacting with atoms in the gas; it gives some electrons extra energy that is then emitted as light. Anne L’Huillier has continued to explore this phenomenon, laying the ground for subsequent breakthroughs.

In 2001, Pierre Agostini succeeded in producing and investigating a series of consecutive light pulses, in which each pulse lasted just 250 attoseconds. At the same time, Ferenc Krausz was working with another type of experiment, one that made it possible to isolate a single light pulse that lasted 650 attoseconds.

Pierre Agostini received his PhD in 1968 from Aix-Marseille University, France. He is currently a professor at the Ohio State University, Columbus, US.

Ferenc Krausz, born 1962 in Mór, Hungary, received his PhD in 1991 from the Vienna University of Technology, Austria. He is director at Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Garching and a professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany.

Anne L’Huillier, born in 1958 in Paris, received her PhD in 1986 from the University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris. She is a professor at Lund University, Sweden.

How are they splitting the prize?

The Nobel Assembly of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said the prize money, worth 10 million Swedish crowns (~Rs 7.52 crore), will be split equally between the three laureates.

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