Physics

Profiles in Charge

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Science  08 Feb 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5864, pp. 699
DOI: 10.1126/science.319.5864.699d

The availability of high-power lasers emitting intense pulses over femtosecond and picosecond time scales enables the study of high-field processes such as photo-dissociation and photo-excition of atoms and molecules in the laboratory. Such processes are relevant across a range of disciplines, from the study of photoinduced chemical reactions in the atmosphere to the more fundamental probing of the electronic excitations in atoms. When an intense laser pulse hits a cloud of atoms or molecules, the intensity profile of the laser pulse will produce a specific distribution of ions. After exciting a cloud of Xe atoms with intense laser pulses, Strohaber and Uiterwaal implement a time-of-flight technique that samples the pulse focal region with micrometer resolution, allowing the distribution of ions to be mapped out in three dimensions. On the flip side, the profile of the ion distributions can be used as an intensity sensor to aid the characterization and optimization of intense laser pulses. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 23002 (2008).

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