Attosecond

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An attosecond is an SI unit of time equal to 10−18 of a second. (one quintillionth of a second).[1] For context, an attosecond is to a second what a second is to about 31.71 billion years, or more than twice the age of the universe.[2][3]

The word "attosecond" is formed by the prefix atto and the unit second. Atto- was made from the Danish word for eighteen (atten).[4] Its symbol is as.

An attosecond is equal to 1000 zeptoseconds, or 1/1000 of a femtosecond. Because the next higher SI unit for time is the femtosecond (10−15 seconds), durations of 10−17 s and 10−16 s will typically be expressed as tens or hundreds of attoseconds:

  • 1 attosecond – the time it takes for light to travel the length of three hydrogen atoms
  • 12 attoseconds – record for shortest time interval measured as of 12 May 2010[5]
  • 24 attoseconds – the atomic unit of time
  • 67 attoseconds – the shortest pulses of laser light yet created[6]
  • 100 attoseconds - fastest ever view of molecular motion[7]
  • 200 attoseconds (approximately) – half-life of beryllium-8, maximum time available for the triple-alpha process for the synthesis of carbon and heavier elements in stars
  • 320 attoseconds – estimated time it takes electrons to transfer between atoms[8]

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