Trio win physics Nobel for shedding light on atom

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STORY: Ferenc Krausz is one of the three scientists of the moment.

On Tuesday (October 3) he celebrated winning the Nobel Prize for Physics, which he shares with Pierre Agostini and Anne L'Huillier.

The trio were awarded for creating ultra-short pulses of light that can expose changes within atoms.

This could potentially lead to better detection of diseases.

Krausz, after being embraced by loved ones, said he did not expect the accolade.

"Of course, I'm overwhelmed, and it is fantastic feedback that the way we are going and the goals that we are pursuing are worth being pursued. I guess this is not only an important message to me and to my group, but also to the whole community which is rapidly growing all over the world."

The Nobel Academy said their studies had given humanity new tools for exploring the movement of electrons inside atoms and molecules.

A phenomenon that has long been thought impossible to trace - and unsurprisingly so.

Changes in electrons happen in a few tenths of an attosecond.

That's a time measurement so short that there are as many attoseconds in one second as there have been seconds since the beginning of the universe.

The findings have potential applications in many different areas.

One being a new in-vitro diagnostic technique to detect characteristic molecular traces of diseases in blood samples.

L'Huillier, who heard she’d won the prize while giving a lecture, described the next half hour as “a bit difficult.”

She is the fifth woman to win a Nobel physics prize.

The three laureates will share the $1 million prize.