Excitation of Rydberg wave packets in the tunneling regime

Bernard Piraux, Francisca Mota-Furtado, Patrick O'Mahony, A Galstyan, Yu Popov

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In the tunneling regime for strong laser field ionization of atoms, experimental studies have shown that a substantial fraction of atoms survive the laser pulse in many Rydberg states. To explain the origin of such trapping of population into Rydberg states, two mechanisms have been proposed: the first involves ac-Stark-shifted multiphoton resonances, and the second, called frustrated tunneling ionization, leads to the recombination of tunneled electrons into Rydberg states. We use a very accurate spectral method based on complex Sturmian functions to solve the time-dependent Schrödinger equation for hydrogen in a linearly polarized infrared pulse and to calculate the tunneling probability in terms of the atomic ground-state width. We examine the probability of excitation into Rydberg states as a function of the peak intensity for various pulse durations and two wavelengths, 800 and 1800 nm, and we try to explain the results in light of the two aforementioned mechanisms. For long pulses of 800 nm wavelength, the extreme sensitivity of the trapping of population into high-lying Rydberg states to the peak intensity, the well-defined value, and parity of the angular momentum of the populated Rydberg states and the presence of Freeman resonances can be explained using a multiphotonic excitation mechanism. For strong pulses of 1800 nm wavelength, in the so-called adiabatic or quasistatic tunneling regime, the oscillations of the excitation probability as a function of intensity are in phase opposition to the ionization probability, and we observe a migration toward high values of the angular momentum with different distributions in the angular momentum at the maxima and minima of the oscillations. We also present a detailed study of how the excited-state wave packet builds up in time during the interaction of the atom with the pulse.
Original languageEnglish
Article number043403
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2017

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