Research Article

Steering Attosecond Electron Wave Packets with Light

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Science  16 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5584, pp. 1144-1148
DOI: 10.1126/science.1073866

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Photoelectrons excited by extreme ultraviolet or x-ray photons in the presence of a strong laser field generally suffer a spread of their energies due to the absorption and emission of laser photons. We demonstrate that if the emitted electron wave packet is temporally confined to a small fraction of the oscillation period of the interacting light wave, its energy spectrum can be up- or downshifted by many times the laser photon energy without substantial broadening. The light wave can accelerate or decelerate the electron's drift velocity, i.e., steer the electron wave packet like a classical particle. This capability strictly relies on a sub-femtosecond duration of the ionizing x-ray pulse and on its timing to the phase of the light wave with a similar accuracy, offering a simple and potentially single-shot diagnostic tool for attosecond pump-probe spectroscopy.

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