Attosecond pulses measured from the attosecond lighthouse

Journal name:
Nature Photonics
Year published:
Published online

The attosecond lighthouse is a method of using ultrafast wavefront rotation with high-harmonic generation to create a series of coherent, spatially separated attosecond pulses. Previously, temporal measurements by photoelectron streaking characterized isolated attosecond pulses created by manipulating the single-atom response1, 2, 3, 4. The attosecond lighthouse, in contrast, generates a series of pulses that spatially separate and become isolated by propagation. Here, we show that ultrafast wavefront rotation maintains the single-atom response (in terms of temporal character) of an isolated attosecond pulse over two octaves of bandwidth. Moreover, we exploit the unique property of the attosecond lighthouse—the generation of several isolated pulses—to measure the three most intense pulses. These pulses each have a unique spectrum and spectral phase.

At a glance


  1. Illustration of the attosecond lighthouse and the pulse-dependent spectral phase.
    Figure 1: Illustration of the attosecond lighthouse and the pulse-dependent spectral phase.

    Focus indicates the complex dipole intensity (short trajectory shown) response to a driving field undergoing ultrafast wavefront rotation, calculated in the strong field approximation. The three dashed lines represent the propagation of the pulses created at the rising, peak, and falling half-cycle of the driving field (top down, respectively). Far field: the attosecond pulses spatially separate; the right projection is the spatial–spectral image showing that each pulse has a unique spectrum, whereas the bottom projection is the short-time Fourier analysis illustrating that each pulse has a unique spectral phase. We use an aperture to isolate a single attosecond pulse, and we focus to reimage the generated pulse.

  2. Characterization of the pulse created at the peak of the driving field transmitted through a Be filter.
    Figure 2: Characterization of the pulse created at the peak of the driving field transmitted through a Be filter.

    a,b, Measured (a) and reconstructed (b) spectrograms. c, The attosecond pulse spectral intensity. The streaking-free spectrum is taken as a reference (orange). The reconstructed spectrum (blue) agrees well with the streaking-free spectrum although the spectral modulation amplitude is decreased. The Be filter transmission (black) nearly covers the entire generated spectrum. d, The reconstructed attosecond pulse (blue), with a measured 310 as FWHM pulse duration and its phase (green). The quadratic phase implies that the pulse is strongly chirped. Inset: log plot of the Fourier transform of the reference spectrum (orange) and the reconstructed pulse (blue).

  3. Short-time Fourier transform of the pulse in Fig. 2.
    Figure 3: Short-time Fourier transform of the pulse in Fig. 2.

    a, The SFA calculated single-atom response to the driving field. Inset: GDD of the dipole response without (black dashed) and including (blue) the Be filter dispersion. The anomalous dispersion of the Be filter compresses the pulse below 70 eV (photon energy), while the Be K edge causes a large dispersion for photon energies >100 eV. b, The reconstructed pulse. Inset: measured GDD. The good agreement of the reconstructed pulse with theory shows that the spectral phase of the attosecond pulse is not significantly distorted by the ultrafast wavefront rotation.

  4. Characterizing three isolated pulses transmitted through an Al filter.
    Figure 4: Characterizing three isolated pulses transmitted through an Al filter.

    ac, Measured spectrograms of the pulses created at the rising (a), peak (b), and falling (c) half cycle of the driving field using an Al filter. df, The short-time Fourier transform of the reconstructed pulses for the pulses generated at the rising (d), peak (e), and falling edge (f). g, Short-time Fourier transform of the single-atom response to a generating field without wavefront rotation, but otherwise matching experimental conditions. Each pulse shows a unique spectrum and spectral phase. The time axes of panels df,g are scaled identically. The Al filter used to block the fundamental beam has an upper transmission cutoff at 51 eV causing large dispersion above ∼45 eV (photoelectron energy).


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  1. Joint Attosecond Science Laboratory, University of Ottawa and National Research Council of Canada, 100 Sussex Drive, Ottawa K1N 6N5, Canada.

    • T. J. Hammond,
    • Graham G. Brown,
    • D. M. Villeneuve &
    • P. B. Corkum
  2. Centre for Relativistic Laser Science, Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Gwangju 500-712, Republic of Korea

    • Kyung Taec Kim
  3. Department of Physics and Photon Science, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), Gwangju 500-712, Republic of Korea

    • Kyung Taec Kim


T.J.H., K.T.K. and P.B.C. designed the experiment. T.J.H., G.G.B., and K.T.K. performed the experiment. K.T.K. and T.J.H. provided the theoretical analysis. T.J.H. analysed the experimental data. T.J.H. and P.B.C. prepared the initial manuscript. All authors contributed in writing the manuscript.

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