Synopsis: First Out of the Gate

Theoretical models edge closer to explaining how photoionization is affected by many-body interactions.
Synopsis figure
L. R. Moore et al., Phys. Rev. A (2011)

In 2010, experimentalists made a curious discovery when they ionized neon atoms with short, intense pulses of ultraviolet light. The time it took for an electron in the p orbital of the atom to be emitted was 21 attoseconds longer than that of an s-orbital electron. The discrepancy was a sign that electron correlations play a role. Initial theoretical calculations of the delay confirmed the existence of a time difference between the emission processes, but the theoretical time delay was three times shorter than the experimental delay.

Now, Laura Moore and colleagues at Queen’s University Belfast, UK, have approached the problem using a time-dependent description of the complex laser-atom interaction. Their method, which is presented in Physical Review A, attempts to model the system by following the same time evolution of the photo-excited electrons as in the experiment.

The calculated time delays are found to be about 10 attoseconds, once again, half those found in experiment. The discrepancy between theory and experiment enlivens the investigation, but is not surprising in the early stage of exploration. According to the authors, theoretical calculations can be improved by accounting for the full complexity of the many-electron motion induced by the ultraviolet light. – Jessica Thomas


Features

More Features »

Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Atomic and Molecular PhysicsOptics

Previous Synopsis

Quantum Information

Defeating Bedlam

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Nonlinear Dynamics

Granular Flow of a Melting Avalanche

Read More »

Related Articles

Synopsis: Atoms Feel New Force
Atomic and Molecular Physics

Synopsis: Atoms Feel New Force

Laser light can stretch and squeeze a whole cloud of atoms with a collective force. Read More »

Synopsis: Direct View of Exchange Symmetry
Quantum Physics

Synopsis: Direct View of Exchange Symmetry

A proposed set of experiments could offer a direct measurement of the fundamental quantum property that distinguishes fermions from bosons. Read More »

Focus: Modeling Imperfections Boosts Microscope Precision
Optics

Focus: Modeling Imperfections Boosts Microscope Precision

A theoretical model of light spreading and scattering improves precision of position and size measurements made with an optical microscope by as much as 100 times. Read More »

More Articles