A strong laser beam can remove an electron from an atom – a process which takes place almost instantly. This phenomenon could now be studied with a time resolution of less than ten attoseconds (ten billionths of a billionth of a second). Scientists succeeded in watching an atom being ionized and a free electron being “born”. These measurements yield valuable information about the electrons in the atom, which up until now hasn't been experimentally accessible, such as the time evolution of the electron’s quantum phase – the beat to which the quantum waves oscillate.
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