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An attosecond is 1×10-18 of a second (one quintillionth of a second).[1] For context, an attosecond is to a second what a second is to about 31.71 billion years.[2][3]

The word "attosecond" is formed by the prefix atto and the unit second. Atto- was derived from the Danish word for eighteen (atten).[4] Its symbol is as.

An attosecond is equal to 1000 zeptoseconds, or 11000 of a femtosecond. Because the next higher SI unit for time is the femtosecond (10-15 seconds), durations of 10-17 s and 10-16 s will typically be expressed as tens or hundreds of attoseconds:

Times which can be expressed in attoseconds:

  • 0.247 attoseconds: travel time of a photon across "the average bond length of molecular hydrogen"[5]
  • 24 attoseconds: the atomic unit of time[6]
  • 43 attoseconds: the shortest pulses of laser light yet created[7]
  • 53 attoseconds: the second-shortest pulses of laser light created[8][9]
  • 82 attoseconds (approximately): half-life of beryllium-8, maximum time available for the triple-alpha process for the synthesis of carbon and heavier elements in stars
  • 84 attoseconds: the approximate half-life of a neutral pion[10]
  • 100 attoseconds: fastest-ever view of molecular motion[11][12]
  • 320 attoseconds: estimated time it takes electrons to transfer between atoms[13][14]

See also


  1. ^ "attosecond". Memidex/WordNet Dictionary/Thesaurus. Archived from the original on 7 April 2019. Retrieved 2011.
  2. ^ Electron Motion Filmed, 28 February 2008
  3. ^ Exploring "Attosecond" Time. Visualising an Attosecond... How short is an attosecond?
  4. ^ atto- [A toh] (Danish or Norwegian: eighteen; a decimal prefix used in the international metric system for measurements). (5 April 2007). Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  5. ^ Grundmann, Sven; Trabert, Daniel; et al. (16 October 2020). "Zeptosecond birth time delay in molecular photoionization". Science. 370 (6514): 339-341. arXiv:2010.08298. doi:10.1126/science.abb9318. PMID 33060359. S2CID 222412229. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ "2018 CODATA Value: atomic unit of time". The NIST Reference on Constants, Units, and Uncertainty. NIST. 20 May 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ Gaumnitz, Thomas; Jain, Arohi; Pertot, Yoann; Huppert, Martin; Jordan, Inga; Ardana-Lamas, Fernando; Wörner, Hans Jakob (30 October 2017). "Streaking of 43-attosecond soft-X-ray pulses generated by a passively CEP-stable mid-infrared driver". Optics Express. 25 (22): 27506-27518. doi:10.1364/OE.25.027506. hdl:20.500.11850/211882. ISSN 1094-4087. PMID 29092222.
  8. ^ Li, Jie; Ren, Xaoming; et al. (4 August 2017). "53-attosecond X-ray pulses reach the carbon K-edge". Nature Communications. 8 (1): 186. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-00321-0. PMC 5543167. PMID 28775272.
  9. ^ Watching Quantum Mechanics in Action: Researchers Create World Record Laser Pulse - 4 September 2012 - ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
  10. ^ C. Amsler et al. (Particle Data Group), PL B667, 1 (2008).
  11. ^ "Fastest view of molecular motion". BBC. 2006.
  12. ^ Baker, S.; Robinson, J. S.; et al. (2 March 2006). "Probing Proton Dynamics in Molecules on an Attosecond Time Scale". Science. 312 (5772): 424-427. doi:10.1126/science.1123904. PMID 16513942.
  13. ^ Merali, Zeeya (20 July 2005). "Electron timed hopping between atoms". New Scientist. Archived from the original on 11 May 2016.
  14. ^ Föhlisch, A.; Feulner, P.; et al. (21 July 2005). "Direct observation of electron dynamics in the attosecond domain". Nature. 436 (7049): 373-376. doi:10.1038/nature03833. PMID 16034414. S2CID 4411563.

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