Atomic Stabilization by Super-Intense Lasers

Science  19 Nov 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5137, pp. 1229-1233
DOI: 10.1126/science.262.5137.1229


Supercomputer simulations predict the creation of an unexpectedly stable form of atomic matter when ordinary atoms are irradiated by very intense, high-frequency laser pulses. In the rising edge of a very intense pulse of ionizing radiation, the atom's wave function distorts adiabatically into a distribution with two well-separated peaks. As the intensity increases, the peak spacing increases so that the atomic electron spends more time far from the nucleus and the ionization rate decreases. This leads to the surprising and counter-intuitive result that the atom becomes more stable as the ionizing radiation gets stronger.