The Attosecond Science Laboratory at King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh – opening only this week – is the first of its kind in the region, hosting an “attosecond laser,” an important tool in atomic physics and molecular sciences, reports Nature magazine.
The kingdom’s largest and oldest universities has collaborated with the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Garching, Germany, which hosts its own attosecond laser, and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. “It is very exciting that the frontier of attosecond science is now having its outpost in the Gulf state,” Olga Smirnova, an atomic physicist at the Max Born Institute in Berlin, tells Nature.
Attosecond lasers generate ultrashort pulses of light, lasting just a few billionths of a billionth of a second, that can image otherwise invisible electrons as they move similarly fast within atoms. They were first reported in 2001 by a team led by the MPQ’s Ferenc Krausz, who heads the Attosecond Science Lab, and they have since expanded from the realm of atomic physics to the that of molecular science, including condensed-matter systems and molecular biology.
Read more on the new state-of-the-art facility and the collaborative efforts with Western scientists to make it happen here.