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Atoms, Molecules and Clusters in Intense Laser Fields

TitleAtoms, Molecules and Clusters in Intense Laser Fields
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsWalters, ZB

Recent advances in the technology of intense, short laser pulses have opened the possibility of investigating processes in atoms, molecules and clusters in which the normal intramolecular forces between electrons and nuclei, and between different electrons, are rivaled in strength by interactions with the driving laser, or with a cluster plasma. Experiments using rescattered electrons offer a means of probing atomic and molecular processes on ultrafast timescales.

This thesis extends techniques and concepts of atomic and molecular physics to describe physics in the strong field regime. This involves investigating how electron scattering from atoms and molecules is affected by the intense and time-varying electric field of the laser, the effect of such scattering on experimental observables, and the role of intramolecular structure on strong field processes.

Also investigated is the evolution of van der Waals atomic clusters when subject to intense laser pulses in the VUV regime. Here processes such as photoionization, inverse bremsstrahlung heating, and collisional ionization and recombination are affected both by the non-hydrogenic nature of the relevant atomic potentials but also by the screening of these potentials by the cluster plasma.