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Nonlinear optics in the extreme ultraviolet


Nonlinear responses to an optical field are universal in nature but have been difficult to observe in the extreme ultraviolet (XUV) and soft X-ray regions owing to a lack of coherent intense light sources. High harmonic generation is a well-known nonlinear optical phenomenon1,2 and is now drawing much attention in attosecond pulse generation3,4,5,6. For the application of high harmonics to nonlinear optics in the XUV and soft X-ray regime, optical pulses should have both large pulse energy and short pulse duration to achieve a high optical electric field. Here we show the generation of intense isolated pulses from a single harmonic (photon energy 27.9 eV) by using a sub-10-femtosecond blue laser pulse, producing a large dipole moment at the relatively low (ninth) harmonic order nonadiabatically7,8. The XUV pulses with pulse durations of 950 attoseconds and 1.3 femtoseconds were characterized by an autocorrelation technique, based on two-photon above-threshold ionization9 of helium atoms. Because of the small cross-section for above-threshold ionization10, such an autocorrelation measurement of XUV pulses with photon energy larger than the ionization energy of helium has not hitherto been demonstrated6,11,12,13. The technique can be extended to the characterization of higher harmonics at shorter wavelengths.

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Figure 1: High harmonic pulse generation in the adiabatic picture.
Figure 2: Two-photon above-threshold-ionization (ATI) autocorrelator.
Figure 3: Autocorrelation traces and the spectra of the ninth harmonic of the blue laser.


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This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.

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Correspondence to Shuntaro Watanabe.

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Sekikawa, T., Kosuge, A., Kanai, T. et al. Nonlinear optics in the extreme ultraviolet. Nature 432, 605–608 (2004).

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