Light for the Future

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LMU Munich15.06.2009
Munich-Centre of Advanced Photonics (MAP)
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On this Cluster of Excellence

The tremendous potential of laser light and laser-based technology has already been recognised. It is being used in ever more diverse fields of application – surgeons cut tissue with laser light and in chemistry and microbiology, laser light is helping to probe the structure of proteins at an atomic scale. Scientists at the Munich-Centre for Advanced Photonics (MAP) are pushing back the boundaries of measurement still further. They are generating the shortest light pulses in the world – in fact one year ago they achieved a Guinness World Record for producing light pulses with a length of 80 attoseconds. But just how short a time-span is an attosecond? The answer is: unimaginably short. Light travels at a speed of around 300,000 kilometres per second, but in the space of one attosecond it couldn´t even travel the width of one hydrogen atom! Ultrashort light pulses enable us to observe electron motion in real time. For example, using this new tool, scientists can uncover microscopic evidence of pathogens at an early stage. Leading physicists, biologists, chemists and medical experts from all over the world are working at the MAP on developing quantum computers of the future, on improving the focus of images taken for medical diagnostics and on new therapeutic possibilities.