Coherent dynamics of plasma mirrors


Thaury, C. and George, H. and Quere, F. and Loch, R. and Geindre, J.-P. and Monot, P. and Martin, Ph. (2008) Coherent dynamics of plasma mirrors. Nature physics, 4 (8). pp. 631-634. ISSN 1745-2473

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Abstract:Coherent ultrashort X-ray pulses provide new ways to probe
matter and its ultrafast dynamics1–3. One of the promising
paths to generate these pulses consists of using a nonlinear
interaction with a systemto strongly and periodically distort the
waveform of intense laser fields, and thus produce high-order
harmonics. Such distortions have so far been induced by using
the nonlinear polarizability of atoms, leading to the production
of attosecond light bursts4, short enough to study the dynamics
of electrons in matter3. Shorter and more intense attosecond
pulses, together with higher harmonic orders, are expected5,6 by
reflecting ultraintense laser pulses on a plasma mirror—a dense
(1023 electrons cm−3) plasma with a steep interface. However,
short-wavelength-light sources produced by such plasmas are
known to generally be incoherent7. In contrast, we demonstrate
that like in usual low-intensity reflection, the coherence of the
light wave is preserved during harmonic generation on plasma
mirrors. We then exploit this coherence for interferometric
measurements and thus carry out a first study of the laser-driven
coherent dynamics of the plasma electrons.
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