Abstract

The scattering of electrons in dielectric materials is central to laser nanomachining1, light-driven electronics2 and radiation damage3,4,5. Here, we demonstrate real-time access to electron scattering by implementing attosecond streaking spectroscopy on dielectric nanoparticles: photoelectrons are generated inside the nanoparticles and both their transport through the material and photoemission are tracked on an attosecond timescale. We develop a theoretical framework for attosecond streaking spectroscopy in dielectrics and identify that the presence of the internal field inside the material cancels the influence of elastic scattering, enabling the selective characterization of the inelastic scattering time. The approach is demonstrated on silica nanoparticles, where an inelastic mean-free path is extracted for 20–30 eV. Our approach enables the characterization of inelastic scattering in various dielectric solids and liquids, including water, which can be studied in the form of droplets.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful for support by the EU via the ERC grants ATTOCO (no. 307203), STARLIGHT (no. 637756) and ELYCHE (no. 227355), LASERLAB-EUROPE (no. 284464, EU Seventh Framework Programme), the Max Planck Society and the DFG through the Cluster of Excellence: Munich Centre for Advanced Photonics (MAP), SPP1391, SPP1840 and SFB 652/3. We acknowledge the computing time provided by the North-German super-computing center HLRN (project ID mvp00011). We acknowledge help in editing the manuscript from B. Steffl and fruitful discussions with V. S. Yakovlev, H. J. Wörner and R. Signorell.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Institute of Physics, University of Rostock, Albert-Einstein-Str. 23, D-18059 Rostock, Germany

    • L. Seiffert
    •  & T. Fennel
  2. Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Hans-Kopfermann-Straße 1, D-85748 Garching, Germany

    • Q. Liu
    • , S. Zherebtsov
    • , P. Rupp
    • , F. Süßmann
    • , K. Wintersperger
    • , J. Stierle
    • , F. Krausz
    •  & M. F. Kling
  3. Department of Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Am Coulombwall 1, D-85748 Garching, Germany

    • Q. Liu
    • , S. Zherebtsov
    • , P. Rupp
    • , F. Süßmann
    • , F. Krausz
    •  & M. F. Kling
  4. Department of Physics, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza L. Da Vinci 32, I-20133 Milano, Italy

    • A. Trabattoni
    • , M. Galli
    • , G. Sansone
    •  & M. Nisoli
  5. Center for Free-Electron Laser Science, DESY, Notkestr. 85, 22607 Hamburg, Germany

    • A. Trabattoni
    •  & F. Calegari
  6. National Research Council of Italy, Institute for Photonics and Nanotechnologies, Piazza L. Da Vinci 32, I-20133 Milano, Italy

    • M. C. Castrovilli
    • , M. Galli
    • , G. Sansone
    • , M. Nisoli
    •  & F. Calegari
  7. National Research Council of Italy, Institute for Photonics and Nanotechnologies, via Trasea 7, I-35131 Padova, Italy

    • L. Poletto
    •  & F. Frassetto
  8. Physical Chemistry, Freie Universität Berlin, Takustr. 3, D-14195 Berlin, Germany

    • I. Halfpap
    • , V. Mondes
    • , C. Graf
    •  & E. Rühl
  9. Max-Born-Institut, Max-Born-Straße 2A, 12489 Berlin, Germany

    • T. Fennel
  10. Department of Physics, University of Hamburg, Jungiusstr. 9, 20355 Hamburg, Germany

    • F. Calegari

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Contributions

L.S., Q.L., S.Z. and A.T. contributed equally to this work. M.F.K., F.C. and T.F. conceived the measurement concept and implementation. Q.L., S.Z., A.T., M.C.C., M.G., P.R. and F.C. performed the measurements. F.S., K.W., J.S., G.S., L.P. and F.F. were involved in the set-up of the experiment and experimental infrastructure. I.H., V.M., C.G. and E.R. prepared and characterized the SiO2 nanoparticles. L.S. and T.F. developed the simulation model and performed the simulations. L.S., Q.L., S.Z., A.T., T.F., F.C. and M.F.K. evaluated, analysed and interpreted the results. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the final manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to T. Fennel or F. Calegari or M. F. Kling.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys4129

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