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Krausz, Ferenc ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6525-9449 (2016): The birth of attosecond physics and its coming of age. In: Physica Scripta, Vol. 91, No. 6, 63011

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Classical electromagnetism allows the rapidity of light field oscillations to be inferred from measurement of the speed and wavelength of light. Quantum mechanics connects the rapidity of electronic motion with the energy spacing of the occupied quantum states, accessible by light absorption and emission. According to these indirect measurements, both dynamics, the oscillation of light waves as well as electron wavepackets, evolve within attoseconds. With the birth of attosecond metrology at the dawn of the new millennium, light waving and atomic-scale electronic motion, being mutually the cause of each other, became directly measurable. These elementary motions constitute the primary steps of any change in the physical, chemical, and biological properties of materials and living organisms. The capability of observing them is therefore relevant for the development of new materials and technologies, as well as understanding biological function and malfunction. Here, I look back at milestones along the rocky path to the emergence of this capability, with some details about those my group had the chance to make some contributions to. This is an attempt to show-from a personal perspective-how revolution in science or technology now relies on progress at a multitude of fronts, which-in turn-depend on the collaboration of researchers from disparate fields just as on their perseverance.

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