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MEDEA Report Summary

Project ID: 641789
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MEDEA (Molecular Electron Dynamics investigated by IntensE Fields and Attosecond Pulses)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Ultrafast multielectronic processes occurring on the femtosecond and attosecond timescale is fundamental in determining the behaviour of the dynamics in molecules and clusters. The understanding of these phenomena might offer new perspectives on processes occurring on “slower” timescales, such as bond-breaking in complex molecules and Coulomb explosion in charged clusters.The main objective of the MEDEA proposal is to create a network where Early Stage Resechears (ESRs) will receive an interdisciplinary and intersectoral comprehensive research training in one of the major field of Photonics (attosecond science) that will be contributed by leading universities and research centers, and by key-player companies in the development and commercialization of state-of-the-art ultrafast laser sources and detection systems.

The main objectives of the MEDEA network are:
1) to advance attosecond and femtosecond XUV spectroscopy by combining in-depth investigation of fundamental electronic processes in simple systems with experiments in complex molecules with the goal of elucidating novel electron dynamics with potential impact in chemistry, surface science, and biology,
2) to demonstrate the feasibility of nonlinear attosecond XUV spectroscopy on the few-femtosecond and sub-femtosecond timescale,
3) to obtain benchmarks for the validation of attosecond tools and femtosecond XUV pulses for the time-resolved imaging of electron and nuclear dynamics in molecules,
4) to contribute to the development of new technological solutions that will increase the competiveness of the industrial partners of the network,
5) to train a group of early stage researchers (ESRs) and contribute to their career prospects by providing them with scientific expertise in complementary research fields, knowledge in technology and innovation management, and special training in communication and outreach skills, and
6) to increase the interest of young students in the network’s core research field (Photonics) by introducing a dedicated experimental kit in several European secondary schools.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"The following discussion is divided according to the Work packages outlined in the Grant Agreement.

WP-1 Attosecond XUV-IR spectroscopy
Several groups conducted experiments based on the investigation of ultrafast dynamics in molecules and clusters excited by isolated attosecond pulses or attosecond pulse trains. Molecules of increasing complexity were investigated. POLIMI in collaboration with MBI focused on the investigation of nitrogen using different approaches, including transient absorption, photoelectron, and photoion spectroscopy. Recently, POLIMI also extended these investigations to more complex systems including caffeine molecules and SF6. These investigations will give new information about the electronic dynamics occurring in systems of increasing complexity after photoionization.

WP-2 Non-linear XUV spectroscopy
The network obtained very important scientific results in the generation and application of intense XUV pulses, using large scale facilities such as Free Electron Lasers, as well as implementing table-top lasers in combination with long-focusing attosecond beamlines. In particular, in a large collaboration within the MEDEA network (including POLIMI, MPIK, FREIB and ELETTRA), the first experiment on coherent control in the extreme ultraviolet region. The experiment represents a milestones because it opens new possibilities for the development of time-resolved investigations using multi-color intense XUV fields.
Using a table-top laser source, MBI in collaboration with POLIMI demonstrated the generation of µJ-level trains of attosecond pulses at 1 kHz. With such energies, intensities up to a few times 1012 W/cm2 can be reached. In a first experiment, the intense XUV source available at MBI was used to demonstrate coherent diffractive imaging on nanoclusters. In particular, the diffraction pattern created by helium nanodroplets was observed on a single-shot basis.

WP-3 HHG and ultrafast electron imaging
Attosecond tools, and, in particular, the attosecond (or few femtosecond) electron wave packets released by strong field photoionization represent unique tools for the implementation of diffraction scheme to observe molecular structure and molecular dynamics with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. Towards this goals, several groups (POLIMI, MBI, CEA) are conducting theoretical studies for understanding the possibility to retrieve the structure of molecules of increasing complexity and to disentangle the structural and dynamical effects in order to access the rich information contained in the diffraction patterns.

WP-4 Training
Several tools for the training of the ESRs have been realized during the first 24 months of the network. These tools includes:
Videoclips (Virtual lab tours and How-to for beginners), Complete list of webinars, Joint Journal Clubes, Toolkit, Winter School in Outreach and Communication, Summer school ""Ultrafast dynamics investigated by intense laser sources"" and two one-day training workshops in the Photonics Explorer Kit.

WP-5 Outreach and dissemination
The outreach of the network involved several activities including the setup of network webpage, the upload of several videos and videoclips on a dedicated Youtube channel, and the organization of a LinkedIn group. The core outreach activity of the network has been the introduction by the ESRs of the Photonics Explorer Kit in several european secondary schools.

WP-6 Management
The Coordinator led the implementation of all the actions reported in the first two years of the network. The management POLIMI had a relevant role in particular coordinating the network activities on the following processes: recruitment, training, outreach, web presence. Furthermore, the Management POLIMI given support to the beneficiaries by planning and reviewing all the activities indicated in the DoA providing tools, templates and format in order to assure a simultaneous progress of the actions among all the network.


Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

During the first two years of the network, two main scientific achievements were accomplished:
1) First experimental observation of the build-up of a Fano resonance
CEA demonstrated for the first time the time-resolved observation of the generation of a photoelectron wave packet contributed by two different paths: a direct photoionization path, and the auotoionization of a bound state embedded into a continuum. The experiment addressed the Fano resonance of Helium, due to the double excitation of the electronic wavefunction. Due to the ubiquity of Fano profile in atomic, molecular, and optical physics as well as in condensed matter physics, this experiment represents a benchmark of the potentialities of attosecond pulses to resolve in time electronic processes.(V. Gruson et al. Science 354, 734-738 (2016))

2) First experimental demonstration of coherent control in the extreme ultraviolet spectral range
In the framework of a large collaboration within the MEDEA network (including POLIMI, MPIK, FREIB and ELETTRA), the first experiment on coherent control in the extreme ultraviolet region was reported. The experiment exploited the unique properties of the FEL FERMI at ELETTRA. The experiment represents a milestones because it opens new possibilities for the development of time-resolved investigations using multi-color intense XUV fields. (K. Prince et al. Nature Photonics 10, 176–179 (2016))

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