Probing Two-Electron Dynamics of an Atom

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Science  06 Feb 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5659, pp. 813-815
DOI: 10.1126/science.1092220

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Coherent short-pulse laser excitation has been used to control the approximate energy and relative proximity of two valence electrons within the same alkaline-earth atom, thereby providing insight into the dynamical evolution of a three-body Coulomb system. Our time-domain experiments enable direct experimental study of the electron dynamics at the classical limit of a two-electron atom. As an example, we look at the mechanism of autoionization for one two-electron configuration class and find that the doubly excited atom decays through a single violent electron-electron collision rather than a gradual exchange of energy between the electrons.

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