Physics

Getting Attosecond Pulses into Shape

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Science  11 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5711, pp. 819
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5711.819c

The ionization of atoms by intense infrared laser pulses produces light that spans the frequency spectrum from the ultraviolet to soft x-rays. Because this broadband output is made up of many harmonics of the central emission frequency, it should be possible to produce light pulses of several tens of attoseconds in duration. However, not being able to harness the output light has meant that the pulses tend to be several hundreds of attoseconds instead. López-Martens et al. show that by compressing and spatially filtering the output light, they can effectively control the phase and amplitude of the attosecond pulses and reduce the length of the pulses to just 170 attoseconds. Such controlled pulses and trains of pulses should provide the precision tools necessary to probe some of the fastest electronic processes, such as the dynamics of atomic excitations and electron orbits. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 033001 (2005).

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