Giant half-cycle attosecond pulses

Wu, H.-C.; Meyer-ter-Vehn, J.
May 2012
Nature Photonics;May2012, Vol. 6 Issue 5, p304
Academic Journal
Half-cycle picosecond pulses have been produced from thin photoconductors when applying an electric field across the surface and switching on conduction using a short laser pulse. The transverse current in the wafer plane then emits half-cycle pulses in a normal direction, and pulses of 500 fs duration and 1 × 106 V m?1 peak electric field have been observed. Here, we show that single half-cycle pulses with a duration of 50 as and up to 1 × 1013 V m?1 can be produced when irradiating a double foil target with intense few-cycle laser pulses. Focused onto an ultrathin foil, all electrons are blown out, forming a uniform sheet of relativistic electrons. A second layer, placed some distance behind, reflects the drive beam but lets electrons pass straight through. Under oblique incidence, beam reflection provides the transverse current, which emits intense half-cycle pulses. Such a pulse may completely ionize even heavier atoms. With these developments, new types of attosecond pump-probe experiments will become possible.


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