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Strong Field Ionization of Water: Nuclear Dynamics Revealed by Varying the Pulse Duration

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posted on 2023-01-11, 21:55 authored by A. J. Howard, C. Cheng, R. Forbes, G. A. McCracken, W. H. Mills, V. Makhija, M. Spanner, T. Weinacht, P. H. Bucksbaum
Polyatomic molecules in strong laser fields can undergo substantial nuclear motion within tens of femtoseconds. Ion imaging methods based on dissociation or Coulomb explosion therefore have difficulty faithfully recording the geometry dependence of the field ionization that initiates the dissociation process. Here we compare the strong-field double ionization and subsequent dissociation of water (both H$_2$O and D$_2$O) in 10-fs and 40-fs 800-nm laser pulses. We find that 10-fs pulses turn off before substantial internuclear motion occurs, whereas rapid internuclear motion can take place during the double ionization process for 40-fs pulses. The short-pulse measurements are consistent with a simple tunnel ionization picture, whose predictions help interpret the motion observed in the long-pulse measurements.

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