Peter Baum is a professor of physics at the University of Konstanz, Germany. His current research in Konstanz focuses on the interaction of light and matter at ultimately small dimensions of space and time, using electron pulses under light-cycle control.
Atoms and electrons are the two central constituents of all materials in our surroundings, but their movements and reaction paths are so small and so fast that observations are close to impossible. By shaping the electron beam in an electron microscope with the optical cycles of laser light, we reach femtosecond and attosecond time resolution and can visualize material transformations on atomic dimensions in space and time. We can see, for example, the electromagnetic field vectors in nanostructures or the atomic rotations of a magnetic material. Under our optical control, the electron as an elementary particle can also become a useful object for quantum operations.