Paul Corkum: Attosecond pulses generated in gases and solids

An Optics + Photonics 2018 Plenary Presentation Recording

02 October 2018

Paul B. Corkum, University of Ottawa (Canada)Attosecond pulses are generated by electrons that are extracted from a quantum system by an intense light pulse and travel through the continuum under the influence of the electric field of the light. Portions of each electron wave packet are forced to re-collide with its parent ion after the field reverses direction.

Upon re-collision, the electron and ion can recombine, emitting soft x-ray radiation that can be in the form of attosecond pulses. This highly nonlinear process occurs in atoms, molecules and solids and offers unique measurement opportunities - for measuring the attosecond pulse itself; the orbital(s) from which it emerged; and the band structure of material in which the wave packets moved.

In this plenary session, attosecond pioneer Paul B. Corkum gives an overview of attosecond pulses generated from gases and solids, beginning with the specifics of how a re-collision electron process works, and moving on to examining the ionization of an atom through the lens of both classical physics and quantum mechanics: "Attosecond-pulse production from a quantum perspective creates a quantum antenna, an electron interferometer."

With the latest attosecond developments, Corkum shows, "we have the spatial, temporal, and field resolution to probe electronics or biology," emphasizing the versatility of the technology. He wrapped up with a quick look at the 25-year history of re-collision which includes extending a 50-year tradition of ultrafast science, improving time-resolved experiments by more than two orders of magnitude; extending a 50-year tradition of nonlinear optics; building on a 100-year tradition of X-ray science and integrated X-rays and laser physics; and influencing the 100-year tradition of collision science by offering time resolution."

Paul B. Corkum of the University of Ottawa and National Research Council of Canada is the 2018 Winner of the SPIE Gold Medal Award in recognition of his conceptual contributions and the development of new laser methods that have led to the creation of the field of attoscience. Corkum is a Fellow of the Royal Societies of Canada and London; a foreign member of the US, the Austrian and the Russian Academy of Science. In 2013, he was awarded Saudi Arabia's King Faisal Prize for science and Israel's Harvey Prize for physics. In 2014 he was named "Thompson Reuters Citation Laureate for work that is of Nobel class and likely to earn the Nobel someday."

Related SPIE content:

SPIE Gold Medal winner Paul Corkum: Voted "most likely to win a Nobel Prize"
The award recognizes Corkum's conceptual contributions and development of new laser methods that led to the creation of the field of attoscience.

Paul Corkum: International partnership explores "extreme photonics"
The Max Planck-University of Ottawa Centre for Extreme and Quantum Photonics is at the forefront of photonics research.

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