How can we control electronic currents in ever smaller and faster circuits, in order to develop more powerful computers and telecommunication systems? How is the structure of molecules affected by electronic excitation? Could this structure be modified by steering electrons that mediate chemical bonds? Can insights into the electronic motions in biological systems help shed light on the basic origin of diseases such as cancer? These are merely a few of the many, grand questions of 21th century science that cannot be answered without direct access to the microscopic motions of electrons.
Research being undertaken at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP), operated jointly at MPQ and LMU, aims at developing basic tools for real-time observation of, and control over, electronic motion on an atomic scale and in all forms of matter; whether atoms, molecules, solids, or plasmas.
Attosecond technology is now being advanced to the realm of multi-octave light transients and attosecond pulses of X-rays. These tools will allow scientists to probe brief, electronic structures of matter with attosecond resolution in time and picometer resolution in space, gaining insight into and control over their response to external excitation. With this research, novel infrared, X-ray, and particle sources driven by femtosecond laser light will be developed and used for the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.