Lightwave driven quantum dynamics: from molecular movies to Bloch waves

15.12.2017, 11:30

Prof. Dr. Jens Biegert, ICFO - The Institute of Photonics Sciences, Castelldefels (Barcelona), Spain

Electron recollision in an intense laser field is at the centre of attoscience research and gives rise to a variety of phenomena, ranging from electron diffraction to coherent soft X-ray emission. We have, over the years, developed intense sources of waveform controlled mid-IR light to exploit ponderomotive scaling, quantum diffusion and quasi-static photoemission.

I will describe how we leverage these effects to "teach" electrons to take a selfie of the dynamics of a single molecule. This permits visualizing for the first time, with combined attosecond temporal and atomic spatial resolution, molecular bond breaking and deprotonation. Furthermore, we achieve isolated attosecond pulses in the soft X-ray water window across the oxygen edge at 534 eV. Accomplishing ultrafast temporal resolution in combination with the soft X-ray's element specificity now provides an entirely new view on the combined electronic and nuclear dynamics in real time. I will show first results in which we resolve the carrier dynamics in a quantum material in real time and within the material's unit cell.

These results provide the first comprehensive insight into the dynamics of molecules and condensed matter, thus addressing fundamental and long-standing questions such as molecular isomerization, phase transitions and superconductivity, and a realistic route to possibly implement control over such processes.