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Strong-field and attosecond physics in solids


Strong-field and attosecond physics in solids

S. Ghimire, G. Ndabashimiye, A.D. DiChiara, E. Sistrunk, M.I. Stockman, P. Agostini, L.F. DiMauro, D.A. Reis

We review the status of strong-field and attosecond processes in bulk transparent solids near the Keldysh tunneling limit. For high enough fields and low-frequency excitations, the optical and electronic properties of dielectrics can be transiently and reversibly modified within the applied pulse. In Ghimire et al (2011 Phys. Rev. Lett. 107 167407) non-parabolic band effects were seen in photon-assisted tunneling experiments in ZnO crystals in a strong mid-infrared field. Using the same ZnO crystals, Ghimire et al(2011 Nat. Phys. 7 138–41) reported the first observation of non-pertubative high harmonics, extending well above the bandgap into the vacuum ultraviolet. Recent experiments by Schubert et al (2014 Nat. Photonics 8 119–23) showed a carrier envelope phase dependence in the harmonic spectrum in strong-field 30 THz driven GaSe crystals which is the most direct evidence yet of the role of sub-cycle electron dynamics in solid-state harmonic generation. The harmonic generation mechanism is different from the gas phase owing to the high density and periodicity of the crystal. For example, this results in a linear dependence of the high-energy cutoff with the applied field in contrast to the quadratic dependence in the gas phase. Sub-100 attosecond pulses could become possible if the harmonic spectrum can be extended into the extreme ultraviolet (XUV). Here we report harmonics generated in bulk MgO crystals, extending to $\sim 26$ eV when driven by ~35 fs, 800 nm pulses focused to a ~1 VÅ$^{-1}$ peak field. The fundamental strong-field and attosecond response also leads to Wannier–Stark localization and reversible semimetallization as seen in the sub-optical cycle behavior of XUV absorption and photocurrent experiments on fused silica by Schiffrin et al (2013Nature 493 70–4) and Schultze et al (2013 Nature 493 75–8). These studies are advancing our understanding of fundamental strong-field and attosecond physics in solids with potential applications for compact coherent short-wavelength sources and ultra-high speed optoelectronics.

Journal of Physics B