Jones, Robert R. Jesse W. Beams Laboratory of Physics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Classical and quantum physics
- Wave packets in the laboratory
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Recent advances in laser and electrooptical technology have made it possible to directly observe the motion of electrons within atoms. Specifically, because of the development of ultrashort laser pulses with durations of less than 100 femtoseconds (1 fs = 10−15 s), instruments can be created that act as cameras with extremely fast shutters to view electrons as they move about the nucleus. In addition, these same laser pulses can be used to alter the distribution of electronic charge about the atom to take on a particular configuration at a specified time. This type of control over charge distributions may eventually make it possible to alter the outcome of chemical reactions between atoms and molecules.
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