Equipement d'Excellence ATTOLab - ATTOLAB Equipex

ATTOLAB a pour objectif d’établir une plateforme laser expérimentale pour les études interdisciplinaires de dynamique ultra-rapide – dynamique électronique et nucléaire aux échelles de temps femtoseconde (10-15) et atto (10-18) seconde - dans les systèmes en phase gazeuse, condensée et plasma.

ATTOLAB est un Equipement d’excellence (Equipex) financé par le programme "Investissements d’Avenir 2011" de l’Agence nationale de la Recherche (ANR). Le projet réunit neuf partenaires dépendant de huit tutelles (voir la page "Unités/Etablissements partenaires"). Il est coordonné par le Laboratoire Interactions, Dynamique et Lasers (CEA/IRAMIS/LIDYL, coordinateur B. Carré).


ATTOLAB a pour objectif d’établir une plateforme expérimentale pour les études interdisciplinaires de dynamique ultra-rapide – dynamique électronique et nucléaire aux échelles de temps femtoseconde et attoseconde - dans les systèmes en phase gazeuse, condensée et plasma.

La plateforme ATTOLAB associe des sources de lumière ultra-brèves très performantes (chaînes laser femtoseconde dans l’infra-rouge et sources secondaires attoseconde dans le domaine extrême-UV) et des dispositifs expérimentaux pour les études de dynamique. Cet ensemble a deux composantes qui seront installées, d’une part, sur le site de l’Orme-les-Merisiers (CEA Saclay, travaux d’aménagement en cours) et, d’autre part, au Laboratoire d'Optique Appliquée (ENSTA - Ecole Polytechnique). Une troisième composante dédiée à la fabrication et la caractérisation des optiques dans le domaine extrême-UV sera installée au Laboratoire Charles Fabry (Institut d’Optique-Graduate School).

ATTOLAB a vocation à être une plateforme ouverte aux utilisateurs, nationaux et internationaux, notamment européens, à partir du second semestre 2016. Avec le Centre Interdisciplinaire pour la Lumière Extrême (Equipex CILEX, incluant le laser APOLLON 10 PW), il est un élément important du « Pôle laser » qui se constitue dans le périmètre de l’Université Paris-Saclay (UPSay). ATTOLAB se rattache en priorité au Département de Physique des Ondes et de la Matière (PhOM) de l’UPSay. Dans ce cadre, il doit assurer la pérennisation à long terme de son développement.


An experimental platform for ultrafast dynamics

ATTOLAB aims at developing cross-disciplinary studies in ultrafast dynamics.

Ultrafast dynamics is a broad transverse field of science crossing physics, chemistry and biology. It aims at tracking and possibly controlling the motion of electrons and nuclei in matter at their shortest relevant space and time scales, respectively.

Electrons are quantum particles which can be considered as localized in space and time in the form of “wavepakets”. In matter, an electron typically moves of one Ångström – the distance between two atoms in a molecule or a solid – within a time of one hundred attoseconds, where 1 attosecond = 10-18 sec. These basic characteristics of the electronic motion are universal. They apply, for instance:

- to an isolated molecule in the gas phase submitted to an electromagnetic light field, in which the electronic cloud oscillates and scatters light back, this process being at the origin of the color of objects ;

- to a large (bio)molecular system in which the electron migrates from one to another atomic site, drawing in turn nuclei into motion and finally changing the molecular structure in a chemical reaction ;

- to the electronic motion in a conductor or semi-conductor solid, which supports the electrical and magnetic properties of the material of major importance for applications ;

- to free electrons collectively moving in a plasma, which determine its radiative properties.

In tight connection with electrons, the heavier nuclei typically move over one Ångström, e.g., in a chemical reaction or a material rearrangement, within a few femtoseconds (1 femtosecond = 10-15 sec).

The complex interplay of the electronic and nuclear motions, combined with the interaction with light, rules most of the dynamical processes in matter, drives matter changes into innumerable “vivid” patterns. Ultrafast dynamics focuses on the shortest steps of these changes in space and time, which often determine the subsequent story.

Since the temporal (coherent) evolution and the energy structure of a quantum system are intimately related, the temporal evolution may be, in principle, equivalently described either in the energy/spectral domain doing spectroscopy (1) – which completely analyzes the energy structure of the transient system which has been initially excited -, or directly in the temporal domain in “pump-probe” experiments (2) – which probes the initially excited (“pumped”) system at successive instants of its evolution. The two approaches make use of the ultrashort pulses of light, of a few 10 to 100 attosecond duration, which can be produced in the extreme-UV or X-ray range by nonlinear optics. The very efficient control of ultrashort light pulses that laser technology allows today, makes the second approach experimentally more easier and flexible.

The ATTOLAB scientific programs concern several fields, i.e., isolated systems in the gas phase, collective ordered systems the condensed phase, collective disordered systems such as plasmas – see 2 Scientific programs for more details.

ATTOlab initiative

In the University Paris-Saclay campus, a large community of about eighty permanent researchers representing fifteen laboratories is directly working on ultrafast dynamics. To promote this field, nine laboratories representing eight institutions have collectively supported the ATTOLAB project, coordinated by CEA-LIDyL, of an interdisciplinary platform for ultra-fast dynamics. The ATTOLAB platform has been granted as an Equipment of Excellence (Equipex) by the ‘Investments for Future’ 2011 program of the French National Agency for Research (ANR).

ATTOLAB aims at establishing an experimental platform for interdisciplinary studies of ultra-fast dynamics - electronic and nuclear dynamics at femtosecond and attosecond timescales – in systems in the gas, condensed and plasma phases.

The ATTOLAB platform combines high-performance, ultra-short laser sources (high energy, phase-controlled, femtosecond lasers in the infrared and secondary attosecond sources in the extreme-UV spectral range) and experimental end-stations for dynamical studies. The laser platform has two components that are installed, on the one hand, at CEA-l’Orme-les-Merisiers for gas phase and solid-state studies, and, on the other hand, at the Laboratory of Applied Optics (ENSTA-Ecole Polytechnique). A third component dedicated to the fabrication and characterization of eXtreme-UV optics is installed at the Laboratory Charles Fabry (Institut d’Optique-Graduate School). The ATTOLAB Equipex will be operational in first semester of 2016. Beamlines will be operated and used by ATTOlab partners. From the second semester of 2016, they will be also contractually opened to external users via regular calls for projects.

ATTOlab in the Paris-Saclay University

ATTOlab scientific objectives specifically focus on the interaction of matter with controlled ultrashort light, and its applications to ultrafast dynamics. They are thus distinct from the scientific objectives of CILEX Equipex hosting APOLLON 10 PW laser, which focus on matter-light interaction at ultra-high intensity. However, CILEX and ATTOlab share several common technologies and experimental techniques – e.g., high power ultrafast laser technologies, the metrology of ultrashort pulses, the principle of time-resolved pump-probe, the spectroscopy of charges particles -. The two Equipex therefore appear very complementary.

Connection with Labex PALM, PhOM dept, OPT2X project, Région IdF


Maj : 03/03/2017 (1)

Complementarity between spectroscopy and time-resolved studies :   The studies of the energetic structure of quantum systems – isolated atoms/molecules and solids – aims at determining the allowed stationary states (energy “eigenstates”), that is the states which stay unchanged in time, into which one “projects” the ... Lire la suite »
Nonlinear optics and attosecond source in the extreme-UV spectral range : As above mentioned, studies of ultrafast dynamics based on pump-probe experiments requires at least two ultrashort light pulses, moreover perfectly synchronized at the attosecond time scale. Again, this is ideally provided by a nonlinear process called high harmonic generation (HHG) which may be ... Lire la suite »
Scientific ProgramsProgrammes Scientifiques : Ultrafast dynamics Since an electron is a quantum particle, it is described as a “wave of matter” or a “matter wave packet”, of which the maximum amplitude – the “heart” - is localized in space and in time, respectively at the typical Angström and ... Lire la suite »
The Platform (Equipments)La Plateforme (Equipements) : The ATTOlab facility comprises three nearby sites in the Paris-Saclay University – see Figure 1 : CEA-l’Orme-les-merisiers: two lights sources and associated endstations are dedicated to ultrafast studies in the gas phase and the solid state. They are operated by the ATTOLab partners ... Lire la suite »
Time-resolved pump-probe experiments : Experimentally, the time-resolved studies of ultrafast dynamics are built on the quite general “pump-probe” scheme. To study the temporal evolution of an excited system over the characteristic time Δtdyn of the dynamics, one proceeds in two steps: - first, one induces ... Lire la suite »
Ultrafast dynamics in the gas phase : Scientific program Atoms and molecules in the gas phase are (relatively) “simple systems in which several basic processes can be investigated [Salières12, Lépine14]. At the temporal scale of a few femtoseconds, nuclei have usually no time to move – they are ... Lire la suite »
XUV OPTICS : The XUV optics play a central role in experimental studies of ultrafast dynamics. They should perform multiple functions [Bourassin13, Diveki14] :   Select a given spectral bandwidth in the overall range 10-500 eV (124nm-2,5nm) and reflect it with high reflectivity. To ... Lire la suite »


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