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Control of atoms and molecules with shaped broadband pulses Zhdanovich, Sergey


The main goal of this PhD work is an experimental study of coherent excitation of atomic and molecular wavepackets, i.e. superpositions of many quantum eigenstates, by shaped femtosecond pulses. Approaches allowing nearly complete population transfer between quantum eigenstates were well studied in the past within the two level approximation. In this work we focus on adiabatic and non-adiabatic methods of population transfer beyond the two-level approximation. Excitation of multi-level target states is possible due to broad spectrum of an ultrashort pulse which contains frequencies needed for multiple transitions to different states in the final superposition. At the same time, the spectrum of an ultrashort pulse can be modified, or ``shaped'', in order to affect the excitation process and control the amplitudes in the final superposition. Both non-adiabatic and quasi-adiabatic methods were first implemented and studied in electronic wavepackets in alkali atoms. The non-adiabatic approach revealed features linked to the strong-field perturbations of the energy level structure of the quantum system. An adiabatic method was implemented for the first time on a femtosecond time scale, and was thoroughly characterized. The control over complex amplitudes in the target superposition was demonstrated as well as completeness of the population transfer. In the second part of this work, we focused on coherent control of rotational wavepackets in diatomic molecules. Rotational excitation by a periodic train of femtosecond pulses was investigated in the context of ``delta-kicked'' rotor - a paradigm system for studying quantum chaos, and the effect of quantum resonance was demonstrated for the first time in a system of true quantum rotors. Control of uni-directional molecular rotation was proposed and demonstrated with a novel ``chiral pulse train'' - a sequence of femtosecond pulses with polarization rotating from pulse to pulse by a predefined angle. All the developed techniques offer new tools in coherent control of atomic and molecular wavepackets on an ultrashort time scale.

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