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EPSRC Reference: EP/E028063/1
Title: Control of Electrons by Few-Cycle Intense Laser Pulses
Principal Investigator: Marangos, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Smith, Professor R Tisch, Professor J Knight, Professor Sir P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Dept of Physics
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 June 2007 Ends: 30 September 2011 Value (£): 2,525,513
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Lasers & Optics Light-Matter Interactions
Plasmas - Laser & Fusion
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Intense, phase-stabilised, femtosecond laser pulses comprising only a few optical cycles ( few-cycle pulses) offer a unique new tool for the manipulation of electrons in matter The strong oscillating electric field of the pulse moves valence electrons in quasi-classical trajectories, but the interaction on the sub optical-cycle timescale is too brief for nuclear motion to occur. Thus the motion of the electrons in small quantum systems (e.g. atoms, molecules, clusters, surfaces, nanosystems) can be controlled whilst the nuclei are fixed in position. This proposal outlines an in-depth programme of research in this rapidly emerging area.The breakthrough of intense carrier envelope phase-stabilised (CEP stabilised), few-cycle pulses provides precisely defined strong electric field optical waveforms. These fully controlled few-cycle pulses permit, for the first time, the control of strongly driven electron motion down to the quantum limit with sub-optical period (< 1 fs) temporal resolution and near atomic scale (~10^-10m) spatial resolution. It is now possible to implement a new type of coherent control of strong field electron processes that are inherently sensitive to the CEP. It is important to stress that it is the electric field waveform, rather than the pulse intensity envelope , that is harnessed to control the system. Control of electrons is provided by these fields at the natural spatial and temporal scales relevant to electronic states in matter (i.e. < 10^-10m and < 10^-15s) - this opens up exciting new possibilities in quantum control. The control we will exercise isolates electron motion from the ion (nuclear) motion, the latter being effectively frozen on the timescale of the pulse duration. Thus the control of quasi-classical electron states within otherwise unaltered material will be feasible.This proposal concerns the development of these new optical techniques and their application to the investigation and control of electron processes in matter. The timeliness of this proposal is underlined by the growing interest in this field internationally with major efforts starting up, for instance in Sweden (Lund), France (Saclay), USA (Boulder, Berkeley, Ohio) and most notably in Germany (MPG-MPQ, Garching). The motivation for all these projects is the prospect of achieving the highest degree of quantum control in matter that can lead to new breakthroughs in chemical, material and optical sciences. Our project objectives include demonstration of selective bond cleaving via controlled electron recollision, optimisation of brightness and minimisation of pulse duration in coherent XUV and incoherent hard X-ray light sources, creation of spin entangled electronic states via ionisation of two-electron systems and development of compact detectors for laser phase.
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Project URL: http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/quantumopticslaserscience/research/laser_consortium
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk