What Is Smaller Than a Nanosecond?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 31, 2020 7:58:31 AM ET
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A nanosecond is one-billionth of a second, but time can be measured by increments far shorter. A picosecond is three orders of magnitude shorter, one-trillionth of a second, and a femtosecond is shorter still at one-quadrillionth of a second.

Dividing the second still further, and by three orders of magnitude each time, the divisions are attoseconds, zeptoseconds and yoctoseconds; the last of these is 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,000,001 second. According to Wikipedia, the shortest theoretical increment of time is the Planck time. This is the time taken for a photon, traveling at the speed of light, to cross a Planck distance. This upper limit is 10^-43 second.