We investigate few-photon ionization of lithium atoms prepared in the polarized 2p(m = +1) state when subjected to femtosecond light pulses with left- or right-handed circular polarization at wavelengths between 665 and 920 nm. We consider whether ionization proceeds more favorably for the electric field co- or counter-rotating with the initial electronic current density. Strong asymmetries are found and quantitatively analyzed in terms of "circular dichroism"(CD). While the intensity dependence of the measured CD values is rather weak throughout the investigated regime, a very strong sensitivity on the center wavelength of the incoming radiation is observed. While the co-rotating situation overall prevails, the counter-rotating geometry is strongly favored around 800 nm due to the 2p-3s resonant transition, which can only be driven by counter-rotating fields. The observed features provide insights into the helicity dependence of light-atom interactions, and on the possible control of electron emission in atomic few-photon ionization by polarization-selective resonance enhancement.




The experimental material presented here is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. PHY-1554776. The theoretical part of this work was funded by the NSF under Grants No. PHY-2012078 (T.M. and N.D.) and No. PHY-1803844 (K.B.), and by the XSEDE supercomputer allocation Grant No. PHY-090031.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

2469-9926; PHY--090031

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

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Publication Date

01 May 2021

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Physics Commons