Research Article

Synthesized Light Transients

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Science  08 Sep 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1210268


Manipulation of electron dynamics calls for electromagnetic forces that can be confined to and controlled over sub-femtosecond (fs) time intervals. Tailored transients of light fields can provide these forces. We report on the generation of sub-cycle field transients spanning the infrared, visible, and ultraviolet frequency regimes with a 1.5-octave three-channel optical field synthesizer and their attosecond sampling. To demonstrate applicability, we field-ionized krypton atoms within a single wave crest and launched an electron wavepacket into a valence-shell orbit with a well-defined initial phase. Half-cycle field excitation and attosecond probing revealed fine details of atomic-scale electron motion, such as the instantaneous rate of tunneling, the initial charge distribution of a valence-shell wavepacket, the attosecond dynamic shift (instantaneous ac Stark shift) of its energy levels, and its few-fs coherent oscillations.

  • * Visiting Professor at King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia