Worldwide there is great excitement about two new ultrafast XUV/x-ray sources that are presently coming available. Attosecond XUV pulses by high-harmonic generation (HHG) will allow for the first time to “make movies” of ultrafast electron motion, and thereby to investigate photochemical processes beyond the Born-Oppenheimer limit. At the same time, XUV/x-ray Free Electron Lasers (FELs) based on self-amplification of spontaneous emission (SASE) of relativistic electrons moving through an undulator structure will allow for the first time to track structural changes in (bio)-molecules using femtosecond time-resolved x-ray diffraction. In this context, the objectives of ATTOFEL are six-fold:
- by establishing a framework for collaborative research on attosecond science, the potential is created for major breakthroughs in our understanding of the role of ultrafast electron dynamics in atomic physics, molecular physics and materials science.
- by bringing together groups who recently have combined research in attosecond science with research efforts at the FLASH-FEL in Hamburg, an effective channel is created for knowledge transfer between the HHG/attosecond laser community and the FEL-community, which have historically been separate.
- a generation of young scientists is trained that can shape the future of attosecond and FEL science, or that can embark on successful careers in industry.
- the competitive advantage of European attosecond science and European XUV/x-ray FEL facilities currently is significantly aided.
- the competitive position of European industrial partners in the very demanding high-end ultrafast lasers market is strengthened.
- the structuring of the international research community in this field is consolidated, strengthened and expanded.