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Attosecond Science Tutorials

Huge Energy Produces Attosecond Pulses

To produce an attosecond pulse, Corkum's team uses a Terawatt Laser, an amazing apparatus that generates a terawatt of energy to create an attosecond pulse.

North America consumes about one terawatt or 1,000,000,000,000 Watts of electricity -- the equivalent of about 10 billion light bulbs burning all at once. An average house uses a few 1000 Watts. 

Imagine what happens when a large number like 1000 Watts meets a small number like a second. If you were to switch on the house lights for only one second each day, then your power bill would be less than one cent per year. You would have consumed only about 1/10 of a kilowatt-hour of energy. 

The same idea works for femtoseconds and attoseconds. If the light pulse lasts for only one attosecond, then, even if it has one terawatt of power -- equal to the power consumed in all of North America -- the energy that it consumes is less than 1 trillionth of a kilowatt-hour. This is less than the energy of a flying mosquito.

In our world, one trillionth of a kilowatt hour is insignificant. In the world of mosquitos it is significant. In the world of atoms, molecules and electrons, it is a huge amount of energy. 

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Visualising an Attosecond

Time and the Organization of the Universe