Frame-by-frame observations of the ionization of argon atoms under extremely bright and energetic illumination could prove a boon to research
Under extremely intense illumination materials may exhibit so-called nonlinear optical properties such as ceasing to absorb light beyond a certain brightness, or becoming highly ionized.
Yasumasa Hikosaka, Mitsuru Nagasono and colleagues at RIKEN and several other Japanese research institutes have now described the details of this ionization process by using very short bursts of bright laser light1. Their finding is relevant to a broad range of pure and applied research, including x-ray imaging of biological molecules, ultrafast optical switches, fusion and astrophysics.
The researchers focused on the behavior of argon atoms, which is easy to handle and well-characterized, …