In this paper we report a direct observation of the oscillation between bound-state configurations in a rapidly autoionizing system. Calcium atoms were excited to a pure 4p3/2nd two-electron configuration using a 500-fsec laser pulse. The initial 4p3/2nd doubly excited state is energy degenerate with the 4p1/2n'd states and several continuum channels. Because of the short-pulse excitation, the initial state of the atom is not an energy eigenstate, but a nonstationary wave packet. As a result, oscillations between the two bound configurations were produced. These oscillations were measured by scanning the timing of a second 500-fsec laser pulse tuned to drive the 4p1/2n'd ionic state back down to the 4sn'd singly excited configuration, which was subsequently detected using selective field ionization. A simple theoretical model was used to model the experimental results and produced good agreement with the data.



Keywords and Phrases

Calcium; Dye lasers; Ground state; Laser pulses; Mathematical models; Photoionization; Quantum theory; Solid state lasers; Ultrafast phenomena; Excited state; Rydberg state; Self mode-locked laser; Titanium doped sapphire laser; Atomic physics

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