This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics rewards experiments with light that capture “the shortest of moments,” the BBC reports.
The award goes to Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier.
Their work 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 winners will share prize money of 10m Swedish krona (£800,000).
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the three laureates’ experiments produced “pulses of light so short that they are measured in attoseconds”.
One attosecond is a quintillionth of a second – it is to a second what one second is to the age of the Universe.
Their work demonstrated that these almost unimaginably short pulses could be used to capture images of processes occurring inside tiny atoms and molecules.
Prof Pierre Agostini is based at Ohio State University in the US.
Prof Ferenc Kraus is at Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Germany and Prof Anne L’Huillier is from Lund University, Sweden.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, announced on Monday, was awarded to a pair of scientists who developed the technology that led to the mRNA Covid vaccines.
Professors Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman shared the prize.