Atomic and molecular dynamics triggered by ultrashort light pulses on the atto- to picosecond time scale
1 Center for Free Electron Laser Science, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, 22607 Hamburg, Germany
2 Department of Physics, University of Hamburg, 20355 Hamburg, Germany
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Revised: 2 April 2013
Published online: 10 May 2013
Time-resolved investigations of ultrafast electronic and molecular dynamics were not possible until recently. The typical time scale of these processes is in the picosecond to attosecond realm. The tremendous technological progress in recent years made it possible to generate ultrashort pulses, which can be used to trigger, to watch, and to control atomic and molecular motion. This tutorial focuses on experimental and theoretical advances which are used to study the dynamics of electrons and molecules in the presence of ultrashort pulses. In the first part, the rotational dynamics of molecules, which happens on picosecond and femtosecond time scales, is reviewed. Well-aligned molecules are particularly suitable for angle-dependent investigations like x-ray diffraction or strong-field ionization experiments. In the second part, the ionization dynamics of atoms is studied. The characteristic time scale lies, here, in the attosecond to few-femtosecond regime. Although a one-particle picture has been successfully applied to many processes, many-body effects do constantly occur. After a broad overview of the main mechanisms and the most common tools in attosecond physics, examples of many-body dynamics in the attosecond world (e.g., in high-harmonic generation and attosecond transient absorption spectroscopy) are discussed.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2013