Tailored semiconductors for high-harmonic optoelectronics

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Science  21 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6348, pp. 303-306
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan2395

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Hitting the highs in solid state

The ability to generate high harmonics of optical frequencies through the nonlinear interaction between intense light pulses and gas atoms has opened up the area of ultrafast optics and spectroscopy. Sivis et al. now show that high harmonics can also be generated with a solid-state sample. They used nanofabricated structured targets of ZnO and varied the chemical composition of the sample to demonstrate that (modest) high harmonics can be generated as the light interacts with the target materials. The results present the possibility of developing solid-state ultrafast optical devices.

Science, this issue p. 303


The advent of high-harmonic generation in gases 30 years ago set the foundation for attosecond science and facilitated ultrafast spectroscopy in atoms, molecules, and solids. We explore high-harmonic generation in the solid state by means of nanostructured and ion-implanted semiconductors. We use wavelength-selective microscopic imaging to map enhanced harmonic emission and show that the generation medium and the driving field can be locally tailored in solids by modifying the chemical composition and morphology. This enables the control of high-harmonic technology within precisely engineered solid targets. We demonstrate customized high-harmonic wave fields with wavelengths down to 225 nanometers (ninth-harmonic order of 2-micrometer laser pulses) and present an integrated Fresnel zone plate target in silicon, which leads to diffraction-limited self-focusing of the generated harmonics down to 1-micrometer spot sizes.

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