Attoclock turns electrons into movie stars: It's already possible to make movies of molecules and atoms in motionduring chemical reactions using laser strobe lights that flash every few femtoseconds (10-15 seconds). However, before two substances can react, an electron must first make the leap from one atom or ion to another, a process that takes only a matter of attoseconds (10-18 seconds).
Laser pulses of 80 attoseconds duration exist and in theory could be used to make a movie of an electron's motion. Becker's team used laser pulses lasting femtoseconds, which are easier to produce. By rotating the pulses once every 1.55 femtoseconds, their pulses tracked motion every 15 to 20 attoseconds, similar to the way the minute hand on a clock tracks minutes, even though it takes an hour to complete one cycle.