Physics

Attosecond Streak Camera

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Science  23 Jan 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5657, pp. 437
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5657.437b

Streak cameras take snapshots of dynamical processes, allowing a process to be broken down and analyzed frame by frame. Pump-probe spectroscopy with pico-and femtosecond laser pulses has become a routine laboratory tool for investigating the dynamics of chemical reactions. With the advent of laser pulses only several hundred attoseconds in duration, some of the fastest physical processes, such as the internal dynamics of electrons within the nucleus, can be studied. However, the required relativistic energy of the laser pulses brings with it prohibitive problems: The electrons are stripped from the nucleus by the high electric and magnetic fields of the laser pulses, and recollision with the parent nucleus is prevented.

Milosevic et al. describe a laser configuration that circumvents this problem. Their scheme involves the use of two counterpropagating laser pulses, circularly polarized and of equal handedness, which can be used to accelerate electrons to multiple-MeV energies and to refocus them onto their parent atom. Such control of the electron dynamics should lead to the ability to image the dynamics of nuclear processes. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 013002 (2004).

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