In recent years, photon pulses in the attosecond (10−18 s) regime have been precisely engineered and are being increasingly put to work—for example, in experimental quantum control and chemical dynamics (see Physics Today, March 2005, page 39). But can much shorter pulses be generated and put to use? Three physicists at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, have proposed some answers. They modeled the photon emission in the early expansion of a quark-gluon plasma, a hot dense stew of fundamental particles created when heavy nuclei smash into each other at relativistic speeds. Prompt gamma rays in the GeV range, produced primarily by quark-gluon Compton scattering and quark-antiquark annihilation, would exit the expanding QGP in at most a few yoctoseconds (10−24 s). With certain collision parameters and with detectors nearly aligned with the collision axis, the model predicts a double-peaked pulse before the...
Stephen G. Benka; Yoctosecond light pulses from quark-gluon plasmas. Physics Today 1 December 2009; 62 (12): 21. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4797024
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