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Investigations of light–matter interactions and motion in the microcosm have entered a new temporal regime, the regime of attosecond physics. It is a main 'spin-off' of strong field (i.e., intense laser) physics, in which nonperturbative effects are fundamental. Attosecond pulses open up new avenues for time-domain studies of multi-electron dynamics in atoms, molecules, plasmas, and solids on their natural, quantum mechanical time scale and at dimensions shorter than molecular and even atomic scales. These capabilities promise a revolution in our microscopic knowledge and understanding of matter.
This focus issue of New Journal of Physics is centered on experimental and theoretical advances in the development of new methodologies and tools for electron control on the attosecond time scale. Topics such as the efficient generation of harmonics; the generation of attosecond pulses, including those having only a few cycles and those produced from overdense plasmas; the description of various nonlinear, nonperturbative laser–matter interactions, including many-electron effects and few-cycle pulse effects; the analysis of ultrashort propagation effects in atomic and molecular media; and the development of inversion methods for electron tomography, as well as many other topics, are addressed in the current focus issue dedicated to the new field of 'Attosecond Physics'.