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Ultrafast control of quantum systems by strong laser fields

Final Report Summary - FASTQUAST (Ultrafast control of quantum systems by strong laser fields)

Our Initial Training Network (ITN) FASTQUAST has taken in charge from September 2008 to August 2012 the training of 32 doctoral students and ten young postdoctoral researchers, in the domain of advanced techniques for ultrafast manipulation of atoms and molecules by strong femtosecond laser pulses from prospective, applicative and technological points of view. It gathers the combined expertise of 11 universities and three industrial companies representing the cutting edge of research and training in femtosecond light-matter interactions in Europe. We have organise d one elementary mini-school on the basics of quantum control and three more advanced Mini-schools, three workshops, with also a particular focus on complementary skills (such as communication, presentation, project planning and management), a young European physicists meeting solely organise d by ESR's of the project, and a final conference 'Frontiers of quantum control'. Advances techniques of control of quantum dynamics by shaped strong fields have been elaborated and implemented, from its foundations to applications in physics, chemistry, and quantum information science, and with the development of new laser technologies. The scientific results have been disseminated through 178 publications in peer-reviewed journals and in 137 international conferences and workshops, about the following main highlights:

Nuclear and electron wave-packet dynamics
- control of high harmonic generation in two-colour fields,
- molecular imaging by strong-field ionisation of aligned molecules,
- strong field coherent control of coupled electron-nuclear dynamics of a molecule by attosecond-precision pulse shaping of the driving femtosecond laser pulse,
- time-resolved photoelectron angular and momentum distributions from strong-field ionisation,
- first XUV-pump-XUV-probe study of ultrafast above threshold electron dynamics at the boundary between femto- and atto-second scales,
- harmonic generation demonstrated as a diagnostic tool in complex ablation plasmas,
- control of matter wave interferences with attosecond precision and picometric structure.

Principles of strong-field coherent control by shaped pulses
- high-fidelity and selective quantum dynamics by composite pulses and parallel adiabatic passage.

Alignment of molecules and applications
- laser-induced field-free permanent planar alignment of molecules,
- field-free quantum cogwheel by shaping of rotational wave packets,
- high-order Kerr effect driven laser filamentation,
- control and femtosecond time-resolved imaging of torsion in a chiral molecule,
- molecular alignment and orientation by electrostatic deflector for rotational-state selection.

Application of ultrafast laser schemes to the control and characterisation of chemical processes
- fluctuating quantum model of the CO vibration in carboxyhemoglobin,
- the primary step in the ultrafast photodissociation of the methyl iodide dimer,
- ultrafast non-radiative decay dynamics of aniline,
- determination of ultrashort molecular dissociation times.

Measurement, stabilisation and control of cold atoms and molecules
- single ion recycling reactions.

Ultrafast information processing
- quantum entanglement between macroscopic diamonds in ambient conditions,
- single-photon-level quantum memory at room temperature,
- multipulse addressing of a Raman quantum memory,
- composite pulses to design efficient implementations of highly-conditional quantum gates,
- high-fidelity local addressing of trapped ions and atoms by composite sequences of laser pulses,
- synthesis of arbitrary SU(3) transformations of atomic qutrits.

Ultrafast spectroscopy and microscopy
- multiplexed coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering spectroscopy and microscopy using a single shaped femtosecond pulse,
- compressive Fourier-transform spectroscopy.

Production, shaping and characterisation of ultrashort laser pulses
- spatio-temporal characterisation of the UV shaped pulses,
- spatio-temporal control of a multiple-scattering light,
- molecular modulators for short pulse generation,
- isolated sub-fs XUV pulse generation in Mn plasma ablation,
- zepto-second precision pulse shaping,
- direct two-XUV-photon double ionisation of Xe for second order autocorrelation measurement of the XUV pulse duration,
- demonstration of a novel ultrafast pulse shaper: programmable quasi-direct space-to-time pulse shaper with active wave front correction,
- multi-mJ carrier envelope phase stabilise d few-cycle pulses generated by a tabletop laser system,
- development of simplified set-ups and robust algorithms for Spider ultrashort pulse reconstruction,
- elaboration of a new carrier envelope phase stabilisation technique with ultrahigh precision,
- demonstration and analysis of pulse shaping by acousto-optic programmable dispersive filters in the UV and MIR wavelength range,
- demonstration of a novel polarisation shaper.