MUNICH, Germany Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) have succeeded to measure the time electrons need to jump from one atomic layer to the next one. The experiment could give valuable insights for the development of future petahertz electronics.
An international research team with scientists from Austria, Germany, Hungaria, Spain and the USA has conducted an experiment in which the researchers succeeded in measuring the incredibly short time the electrons were under way crossing layers only very few atomic layers thick: some hundred attoseconds, or ten by the power of minus 18 seconds was the travel time.
The experiment is a first step to develop techniques to access that travel and get access to such extreme time periods. The team at MPQ in Garching near Munich, completed by researchers from the universities of Bielefeld, Hamburg and Vienna, used an 300 attosecond ultra violet pulse to excite and release electrons in a tungsten crystal, and measured the time until the electrons appeared at the surface.
The results could eventually lead to the creation of devices that can act at such short time periods, MPQ explained in a press statement. If successful, this could eventually be the foundation of petahertz electronics – an electronic technology with ultra-high switch speeds and bandwidths, the institute said.