Recent innovations in laser technology have provided radiation sources for attosecond (10 to the power of -18 sec) light flashes that can freeze the ultrafast motion of electrons inside atoms and molecules.
The range of possible applications is however limited by the low flux of the current attosecond sources. In a proof of principle experiment a team of MPQ scientists (Attosecond and High-Field Physics Division, Prof. Ferenc Krausz) has now demonstrated a novel way of generating attosecond light flashes with unprecedented intensity. The article by Y. Nomura et al., (Nature Physics, Advance Online Publication December 14, 2008, DOI 10.1038) confirms that relativistically driven overdense plasmas are able to convert infrared laser light into harmonic XUV radiation with high efficiency.
Furthermore it demonstrates the feasibility of confining unprecedented amounts of light energy to within less than one femtosecond. The long term goal - reaching sub-atomic resolution simultaneously in space and time - will have far-reaching impact, from physics and chemistry through biology and medicine to future information technologies.
State of the art technique for producing ultrashort coherent light pulses in the XUV spectral range is the method of generating "harmonics" by converting laser light travelling through a gas target to radiation whose frequency is an integer times the frequency of the fundamental oscillation. By contrast the scientists focus short laser pulses from the Titanium-Sapphire-Laser ATLAS (IR, 800 nm) onto a solid target creating an overdense plasma on its surface in which the electrons oscillate in the strong laser field with velocities close to the speed of light. Here two mechanisms give rise to harmonic generation. On the one hand the electrons reflect the incoming laser light causing (depending on their direction) a Doppler shift towards higher frequencies. On the other hand - and this process is the dominant one in this work - the electrons that are injected into the surface excite plasma waves in their wake. Under certain conditions these are converted to electromagnetic radiation at higher harmonics of the driver frequency. A spectral filter suppresses residual IR-light and selects a range of harmonics.
"There is no way to measure the time structure of the sequence of out coming attosecond flashes directly", says Dr. George Tsakiris, leader of the project. "We therefore have to resume to a trick: we let two replica of the attosecond pulse train interact with a Helium gas jet. By varying the time delay between them and recording the corresponding number of resulting Helium ions we can deduce the temporal structure of the XUV radiation." "We have demonstrated for the first time that the harmonics from solid targets are indeed emitted as a train of attosecond pulses", adds Rainer Hörlein, PhD student at the experiment.
More generally spoken the physicists have demonstrated the first alternative method to the generation of harmonics from noble gases for the production of attosecond pulses. In addition the pulses are orders of magnitude more intense than those generated with conventional methods. Unlike gas-harmonics the new method is expected to be highly scalable and to exhibit no limitation on the usable laser intensity: the higher the laser intensity the shorter and more energetic the attosecond pulses should be. Much more intense attosecond pulses will significantly increase the scope of possible experiments with attosecond resolution and will make pump-probe experiments with attosecond pulses feasible. [O.M.]
Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Further reports about: > Attosecond > Attosecond flashes > DOI > Max Planck Institute > Physic > Quantum > UV radiation > XUV > attosecond pulses > electrons > harmonic XUV radiation > infrared laser light > laser light > laser technology > pump-probe experiments > solid-density relativistic plasmas
Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top
20.04.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
New record on squeezing light to one atom: Atomic Lego guides light below one nanometer
20.04.2018 | ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy