The hardest problems are never solved by one person. They are solved by teams; or in the case of science, collaborations.
It took a collaboration of 17 researchers, including four JILA fellows and another six JILA affiliates, just a little over five years to achieve robust polarization control over isolated attosecond (one billionth of a billionth of a second) pulses of extreme-ultraviolet light. In layman’s terms, they smooshed oodles of energy into a temporally tiny, yet exquisitely controlled, burst of X-rays. In slang terms, they threw an X-ray sucker punch.
The complete accomplishment is indeed a mouthful. But the qualifiers detail the high degree of control the researchers now wield.
X-rays are an unruly electromagnetic wave that refuse to be controlled by typical optical tools. But the collaboration was not daunted by the formidable task. For years, JILA Fellows and their collaboration have been developing clever solutions for X-ray control.
The journey started more than twenty years ago, when JILA experimentalists learned how to develop X-rays in a small laboratory setting. The technique, called high-harmonic generation, combines...
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