The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences goes in this fifteenth edition to Anne L’Huillier (Lund University, Sweden), Paul Corkum (University of Ottawa and the National Research Council, Canada) and Ferenc Krausz (Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Germany), the three pioneers of “attosecond physics” or “attophysics” whose work has made it possible to observe subatomic processes unfolding over the shortest time scale captured by science.
Attophysics, says laureate Paul Corkum, “is about making the fastest measurements that we as humans can make. And that, I think, is what places it at the forefront of knowledge.” An attosecond, he explains, “is incredibly short. So an attosecond is to a second as a second is to the age of the universe. Can you imagine something as short as that?” In figures, an attosecond is one billionth of a billionth of a second, that is, 0.000000000000000001 seconds.
The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences was announced this morning in Spain.