Recent developments of ultrashort intense light sources operating in the XUV and X-ray spectral regions promise to revolutionize chemistry, as they will give access to dynamical processes occurring in the attosecond time scale (1 asec = 10-18 s), the natural time scale for electronic motion in atoms and molecules. Thus, such light sources will allow to address new fundamental questions about the role and possible control of electron dynamics in chemical reactivity, to investigate photoinduced charge migration in relevant molecular systems, and to image, with asec resolution, fast structural changes in molecules during proton transfer, isomerization, or motion through conical intersections. Large-scale facilities are currently being developed all over Europe for this purpose (ELI-ALPS, EuXFEL, FERMI, SwissFEL, etc), accompanied by an increasing demand of accurate theoretical support for an optimal use of these resources.
The AttoChem network will coordinate experimental and theoretical efforts to exploit the large potential of attosecond techniques in chemistry, with the aim of designing new strategies for the control of charge migration in molecules by directly acting on the attosecond time scale. This ability will be used to selectively break and form chemical bonds, thus opening new avenues for the control of chemical reactions. The results of the Action are expected to have a significant impact in several areas of chemistry, such as photovoltaics, radiation damage, catalysis, photochemistry, or structural determination. AttoChem will also act as a liaison with the relevant stakeholders to bridge the gap to industrial applications.