Strong-field ionization with two-color circularly polarized laser fields

Christopher A. Mancuso, Daniel D. Hickstein*, Patrik Grychtol, Ronny Knut, Ofer Kfir, Xiao Min Tong, Franklin Dollar, Dmitriy Zusin, Maithreyi Gopalakrishnan, Christian Gentry, Emrah Turgut, Jennifer L. Ellis, Ming Chang Chen, Avner Fleischer, Oren Cohen, Henry C. Kapteyn, Margaret M. Murnane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Strong-field ionization provides fundamental insight into light-matter interactions, encoding the structure of atoms and molecules on the subångström and subfemtosecond scales. In this Rapid Communication, we explore an important regime: strong-field ionization by two-color circularly polarized laser fields. In contrast to past work using linearly polarized drivers, we probe electron trajectories that are driven in a two-dimensional plane, thus separating the tunneling angle from the rescattering angle. This allows us to make several findings. First, we observe a single-lobed electron distribution for co-rotating fields, and a three-lobed distribution for counter-rotating fields, providing experimental validation of the theoretical model explaining the generation of circularly polarized high harmonic light. Second, we discover that there is significant electron-ion rescattering using counter-rotating fields, but not with co-rotating fields. Finally, we show that the rescattered electrons are well separated from the directly ionized electrons, in striking contrast to similar low-energy structures seen with linearly polarized fields. These findings help overcome the long-standing problem of how to decouple the tunneling and rescattering steps in strong-field ionization, which will enable new dynamic probes of atomic and molecular structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number031402
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 25 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


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