Attosecond coherent control of free-electron wave functions using semi-infinite light fields

Light–electron interaction is the seminal ingredient in free-electron lasers and dynamical investigation of matter. Pushing the coherent control of electrons by light to the attosecond timescale and below would enable unprecedented applications in quantum circuits and exploration of electronic motions and nuclear phenomena. Here we demonstrate attosecond coherent manipulation of a free-electron wave function, and show that it can be pushed down to the zeptosecond regime. We make a relativistic single-electron wavepacket interact in free-space with a semi-infinite light field generated by two light pulses reflected from a mirror and delayed by fractions of the optical cycle. The amplitude and phase of the resulting electron–state coherent oscillations are mapped in energy-momentum space via momentum-resolved ultrafast electron spectroscopy. The experimental results are in full agreement with our analytical theory, which predicts access to the zeptosecond timescale by adopting semi-infinite X-ray pulses.

Published in:
Nature Communications, 9, 1, 2694
Jul 12 2018
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 Record created 2018-10-12, last modified 2019-05-07

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