Attosecond Science

Attophysics or attosecond science is a branch of physics that focuses on processes occurring mostly in the electrons in molecules. These processes take place in a matter of seconds.

Molecular Processes

Technology advances and new theoretical and experimental approaches have made it possible to study the motion and dynamics of electrons. The effects of electrons at the molecular level are of particular interest and can help understand collective and particle-hole excitation.


The first experiments were conducted by research teams at the Technical University in Vienna and the University of Bielefeld in Germany. The researchers used short pulses to manipulate and rearrange electrons around an atom.

Pump probing methods are widely used in attosecond science, pump-probe spectroscopy being the least complex technique. Researchers use optical pulses with varying delay to study the processes that take place during chemical reactions. The first pulse, which is known as the pump, starts the chemical reaction. The second pulse, which functions as the probe, hits the reaction. Scientists study its reflection and transmission to learn more about different processes triggered by pump pulses. The goal is to reconstruct how the reaction occurs and progresses. This technique has different applications, one being to study how intense pulses affect samples and result in melting.

Other techniques are also used to generate isolated pulses, including ionization, double optical, and polarization gating. The polarization technique, for example, is used to polarize the central parts of pulses lineally while polarizing the trailing and leading edges of pulses in an elliptical fashion. This allows for higher laser intensity. This and other techniques have been devised to study the quantum mechanical phase, proton motion in methane and hydrogen molecules, and other processes and phenomena. The main goal is to study and better understand molecular and atomic processes. Attosecond pulses also offer scientists the chance to measure and manipulate quantum states.

Attosecond Science in Canada

Scientists at the National Research Council of Canada investigate different processes and reactions, including molecules and atoms in intense fields, molecular dynamics, attosecond huv sources, and femtosecond laser sources. The National Research Council of Canada collaborates with the University of Ottawa and is the home of the Attosecond Group. The Ottawa-based laboratory houses the fastest x-ray laser in Canada and was created with the help of funding by the federal government. The main goal is to improve quality of life, boost Canada’s economy, and create more jobs by investing in technological advances and scientific progress.

Key researchers at the National Research Council are Andre Staudte, David Villeneuve, and Paul Corkum. Professor Paul Corkum is a leading theoretical physicist and director of the Council. His main research focus is the effect of intense light pulses on solids, molecules, and atoms. David Villeneuve is an adjunct professor at the Énergie, Matériaux et Télécommunications and University of Ottawa. He has numerous publications on attosecond pulse generation, near-field imaging, molecular frame reconstruction, and electric-field transients. Andre Staudte is also a principle scientist with research interests in sub-cycle electron dynamics, tunnel ionization, time-resolving intra-atomic collisions, and sequential double ionization. The Attosecond Group works on multiple research projects with a focus on laser pulse generation, high harmonic spectroscopy, attosecond technology, and atomic and molecular dynamics. High harmonic generation, for example, is used to generate coherent bursts while pulse duration is measured by means of photoelectron streaking.

The Attosecond Group has produced a number of publications on harmonic generation in solid matter, attosecond pulse isolation, laser-induced holography to study molecular dynamics, frustrated double ionization.

Highest Starting Salaries by Degree

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Bachelor of Science majors in Canada include programs such as Information Technology, Mathematics and Statistics, Environmental Science, Sustainable Design Engineering, Analytics, and more. Pay varies based on factors such as degree, location, skills, and experience. Graduates with degrees in Genetics, Computer Science, Microbiology, Math, and Engineering enjoy high starting salaries in Canada.

Information Technology

Computer science majors find employment as software engineers and developers, junior systems administrators, information systems analysts and programmers, and back-end and front-end developers. The average salary for web developers is at about $60,000, and the pay ranges from $42,000 to $83,000. Graduates in cities such as Montreal, Calgary, and Toronto enjoy the highest salaries.


Graduates with engineering degrees also enjoy higher-than-average salaries. Engineering majors are in demand, and young people find employment as civil engineering technicians, energy consultants, data analysts, and process, manufacturing, mechanical, and electrical engineers. The pay varies by field, position, and experience. The average salary for electrical engineers, for example, is about $68,160, and salaries are in the range of about $49,440 to $99,150. Manufacturing engineers get about $62,190 on average, and the pay ranges from $47,550 to $80,770. Other career paths for university graduates include field engineer, research assistant, mining engineer, process analyst, and data scientist.


Genetics is a promising field in Canada and other developed countries, and graduates find employment as zoologists, pathologists, microbiologists, and lab assistants. Other career paths for young professionals to explore include geneticist, genetic engineer, research scientist, and pathologist. Graduates have in-depth knowledge across different branches of science, including virology, advanced genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, and advanced biology. The average salary of geneticists in Canada is at about $70,980, and pay varies by experience.


Graduates with a degree in astronomy can choose from a host of different positions, including museum planetarium director, research scientist, meteorologist, and government researcher. Other options include climatologist, astrophysist, and astronomer. Astronomers, for example, get about $97,400 on average.


A degree in pharmacy is also likely to land graduates a job that pays well. Career options for young specialists include pharmacist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, pharmacy officer. The salary of pharmacists is in the range of $65,660 to $114,900, and the average pay is $93,000. Pharmacists in Canada work in different settings, including family medicine clinics, long-term care facilities, community pharmacies, and hospitals. They also work for pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and universities. Pharmacists are tasked with monitoring therapies, providing pharmacological information, preparing medications, controlling and dispensing medications, and a lot more.


Healthcare professionals in Canada enjoy good salaries and work in different settings, including private practices, private hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facilities. Professionals specialize in different branches of medicine and science and work as infectious disease specialists, immunologists, epidemiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, internal medicine specialists, etc. The average salary of dermatologists is at about $230,000. The pay ranges from $65,400 to $413,200. Neurologists get about $171,490, with a pay ranging from $59,600 to $426,600. The average wage for healthcare professionals in Canada is $69,600.


A degree in biology gives students knowledge across different branches of science, including physics, statistics, chemistry, biology, and biochemistry. Classes include inorganic and organic chemistry, virology, cellular immunology, medical microbiology. Graduates find employment as research technicians and research scientists, microbiologists, hematologists, and college instructors. They can also work as embryologists and bacteriologists. The average salary of microbiologists in Canada is $48,000, and the pay ranges from $35,370 to $66,670.


Graduates with a degree in mathematics have plenty of choice when it comes to career paths. They can work as data analysts, statisticians, research scientists, and investment analysts. Other options include data scientist, actuarial analyst, quality surveyor, and insurance underwriter. The average pay of data scientists stands at about $74,200 and is in the range of $44,700 to $98,200. Quality surveyors are paid between $40,700 and $110,700. Other science majors to explore include biochemistry, atmospheric science, forensic science, and cell biology. Universities in Canada also offer programs and degrees in physics, neuroscience, geophysics, chemistry, bacteriology.