Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences

, Volume 86, Issue 6, pp 426–432 | Cite as

Probing quantum systems from the inside while producing the world’s shortest optical pulses

  • Paul Corkum
Reports by the Laureates of the 2015 Lomonosov Grand Gold Medal of the Russian Academy of Sciences


In 1964, Professor L.V. Keldysh, with whom I share winning the Lomonosov Gold Medal, published what was to become a very influential paper. In his paper, he developed the theory of multiphoton ionization for atoms and the creation of electron-hole pairs for solids. Fifty years later, we generate the world’s shortest light pulses using electron wave packets that are extracted from rare gas atoms by an intense infrared pulse much as Professor Keldysh described. The ultrashort bursts of XUV radiation from many atoms add coherently to produce intense pulses as short as 65 attoseconds—the current world record. Similar highly nonlinear processes occur in other atoms, molecules and solids. In addition to its importance as a new source of soft X-ray radiation and ultrashort pulses, the radiation generated from ionizing material encodes information on the quantum system from which it was made. By analyzing the XUV radiation, not only can we image molecular orbitals but also determine the band structure of solids.


tunneling multiphoton ionization attosecondpulses re-collisions electronwavepacket 


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Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Joint Attosecond Science LaboratoryUniversity of Ottawa and the National Research Council of CanadaOttawaCanada

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