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Research group - Theoretical Quantum Optics

Time evolution of the internuclear distance in a laser-driven hydrogen molecular ion obtained from a multiconfiguration time-dependent Hartree calculation. Image: C. Jhala

The interaction between laser light and matter is a central theme of modern research in quantum optics and precision metrology. Two major frontiers can be identified: observation of ultrafast processes with time scales below 1 femtosecond and high-precision spectroscopy. Ultrafast science is intimately related to the investigation of strong laser pulses interacting with atoms and molecules. 

On the one hand, short pulses are the ideal tool to induce and probe ultrafast electronic processes and molecular reactions, and on the other hand, laser-driven atoms and molecules are sources of extreme ultraviolet coherent pulses (atto-second bursts of high-harmonic emission) which can be used to study processes on the attosecond time scale. This research group works on the theory of strong laser fields and the quantum dynamics of atoms and molecules, collaborating with experimental groups in QUEST. 


Furthermore, this research group has calculated the temporal structure of the attosecond bursts with unprecedented resolution. Internal motion such as molecular vibration and the motion of ionization-induced holes in laser-matter interaction and in particular the effect on harmonic emission is investigated in detail. The researchers also analyse the harmonic phase with a view to the application to imaging of atomic and molecular structures and dynamics. 

Precision spectroscopy requires sources with sharp frequencies and high repetition rate. Within one QUEST collaboration project, the investigation of high-repetition harmonics from laser-driven nanoarrays is planned.