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Classical mechanisms of recollision and high harmonic generation

Abstract : Thirty years after the demonstration of the production of high laser harmonics through nonlinear laser-gas interaction, high harmonic generation (HHG) is being used to probe molecular dynamics in real time and is realizing its technological potential as a tabletop source of attosecond pulses in the XUV to soft X-ray range. Despite experimental progress, theoretical efforts have been stymied by the excessive computational cost of first-principles simulations and the difficulty of systematically deriving reduced models for the non-perturbative, multiscale interaction of an intense laser pulse with a macroscopic gas of atoms. In this thesis, we investigate first-principles reduced models for HHG using classical mechanics. Using nonlinear dynamics, we elucidate the indispensable role played by the ionic potential during recollisions in the strong-field limit. Then, borrowing a technique from plasma physics, we systematically derive a hierarchy of reduced Hamiltonian models for the self-consistent interaction between the laser and the atoms during pulse propagation. The reduced models can accommodate either classical or quantum electron dynamics. We build a classical model which agrees quantitatively with the quantum model for the propagation of the dominant components of the laser field. In a simplified geometry, we show that the anomalously high frequency radiation seen in simulations results from the delicate interplay between electron trapping and higher energy recollisions brought on by propagation effects.
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  • HAL Id : tel-02014828, version 1

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Simon Berman. Classical mechanisms of recollision and high harmonic generation. Atomic Physics [physics.atom-ph]. Georgia Institute of Technology, USA; Aix Marseille Université, 2018. English. ⟨tel-02014828⟩

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