Emergence of a Higher Energy Structure in Strong Field Ionization with Inhomogeneous Electric Fields

L. Ortmann*, J. A. Pérez-Hernández, M. F. Ciappina, J. Schötz, A. Chacón, G. Zeraouli, M. F. Kling, L. Roso, M. Lewenstein, A. S. Landsman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Studies of strong field ionization have historically relied on the strong field approximation, which neglects all spatial dependence in the forces experienced by the electron after ionization. More recently, the small spatial inhomogeneity introduced by the long-range Coulomb potential has been linked to a number of important features in the photoelectron spectrum, such as Coulomb asymmetry, Coulomb focusing, and the low energy structure. Here, we demonstrate using midinfrared laser wavelength that a time-varying spatial dependence in the laser electric field, such as that produced in the vicinity of a nanostructure, creates a prominent higher energy peak. This higher energy structure (HES) originates from direct electrons ionized near the peak of a single half-cycle of the laser pulse. The HES is separated from all other ionization events, with its location and width highly dependent on the strength of spatial inhomogeneity. Hence, the HES can be used as a sensitive tool for near-field characterization in the "intermediate regime," where the electron's quiver amplitude is comparable to the field decay length. Moreover, the large accumulation of electrons with tuneable energy suggests a promising method for creating a localized source of electron pulses of attosecond duration using tabletop laser technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number053204
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - 4 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


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