Monday, December 04, 2006

Catching the wave

In recent years the use of high-order harmonic radiation to create and control events on attosecond timescales has grown at a phenomenal rate. With the use of carrier-envelope phase (CEP) stabilization and few-cycle laser systems it is possible to probe physical processes on unprecedented timescales. Here, we report the first experimental observation of high-harmonic emission at individual half-cycles of a laser pulse. We show that these half-cycle emissions are extremely sensitive to the CEP, providing a route to a new single-shot measurement technique of the CEP. We use this technique to measure the CEP of an 8.5 fs pulse at a centre wavelength of 800 nm with an accuracy of 20 as (1 as=1x10-18 s). With appropriate spatio-spectral filtering of the harmonic spectra, our calculations show that we can isolate emission from an individual half-cycle cutoff, which corresponds to a single isolated attosecond pulse of duration less than 300as.

Citation: "Half-cycle cut-offs in harmonic spectra and robust carrier-envelope phase retrieval", Nature Physics, Sunday 3 December 2006.

related link: Attosecond Technology

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