Electron impact ionization of atomic clusters in ultraintense laser fields

A. Heidenreich*, I. Last, J. Jortner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we report on inner ionization of Xen clusters (n = 55- 2171) in ultraintense Gaussian laser fields (peak intensity I = 10 15- 1020 Wcm-2, pulse width τ= 25 fs, frequency 0.35 fs-1). The cluster inner ionization process is induced by the barrier suppression ionization (BSI) mechanism and by electron impact ionization (EII), which occurs sequentially with the BSI. We address electron impact ionization of clusters, which pertains to inelastic reactive processes of the high-energy (100 eV-1 keV per electron) nanoplasma. We utilized experimental data for the energy dependence of the electron impact ionization cross-sections of Xej+ (j = 1-10) ions, which were fit by an empirical three-parameter Lotz-type equation, to explore EII in clusters by molecular dynamics simulations. Information was obtained on the yields and time-resolved dynamics of the EII levels (i.e., number nimp of electrons per cluster atom) in the Xen clusters and their dependence on the laser intensity and cluster size. The relative long-time (t = 90 fs) yields for EII, nimp/nii (where nii is the total inner ionization yield) are rather low and increase with decreasing the laser intensity. In the intensity range I = 1015-1016 Wcm-2, nimp/nii = 0.21 for n = 2171 and n imp/nii = 0.09-0.14 for n = 459, while for I = 10 18-1020 Wcm-2, nimp/nii = 0.01-0.05. The difference Δnimp between the EII yield at long time and at the termination of the laser pulse reflects on ionization dynamics by the nanoplasma when the laser pulse is switched off. For Xe2171 in the lower intensity domain, Δ nimp = 0.9 at I = 10 15 Wcm-2 and Δnimp = 0.4 at 10 16 Wcm-2, reflecting on EII by the persistent nanoplasma under "laser free" conditions, while in the higher intensity domain of I = 1017 - 1018 Wcm-2, Δnimp is negligibly small due to the depletion of the transient nanoplasma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-577
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Physical Journal D
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005


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