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Cycle-Sculpted Strong Field Optics (CYFI)
Start date: Jan 1, 2012, End date: Jun 30, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The past decade saw a remarkable progress in the development of attosecond technologies based on the use of intense few-cycle optical pulses. The control over the underlying single-cycle phenomena, such as the higher-order harmonic generation by an ionized and subsequently re-scattered electronic wave packet, has become routine once the carrier-envelope phase (CEP) of an amplified laser pulse was stabilized, opening the way to maintain the shot-to-shot reproducible pulse electric field. Drawing on a mix of several laser technologies and phase-control concepts, this proposal aims to take strong-field optical tools to a conceptually new level: from adjusting the intensity and timing of a principal half-cycle to achieving a full-fledged multicolor Fourier synthesis of the optical cycle dynamics by controlling a multi-dimensional space of carrier frequencies, relative, and absolute phases. The applicant and his team, through their unique expertise in the CEP control and optical amplification methods, are currently best positioned to pioneer the development of an optical programmable “attosecond optical shaper” and attain the relevant multicolor pulse intensity levels of PW/cm2. This will enable an immediate pursuit of several exciting strong-field applications that can be jump-started by the emergence of a technique for the fully-controlled cycle sculpting and would rely on the relevant experimental capabilities already established in the applicant’s emerging group. We show that even the simplest form of an incommensurate-frequency synthesizer can potentially solve the long-standing debate on the mechanism of strong-field rectification. More advanced waveforms will be employed to dramatically enhance coherent X ray yield, trace the time profile of attosecond ionization in transparent bulk solids, and potentially control the result of molecular dissociation by influencing electronic coherences in polyatomic molecules.

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