Isotope Effect in Tunneling Ionization of Neutral Hydrogen Molecules
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It has been recently predicted theoretically that due to nuclear motion light and heavy hydrogen molecules exposed to strong electric field should exhibit substantially different tunneling ionization rates [O. I. Tolstikhin, H. J. Worner, and T. Morishita, Phys. Rev. A 87, 041401(R) (2013)]. We studied that isotope effect experimentally by measuring relative ionization yields for each species in a mixed H2/D2 gas jet interacting with intense femtosecond laser pulses. In a reaction microscope apparatus, we detected ionic fragments from all contributing channels (single ionization, dissociation, and sequential double ionization) and determined the ratio of total single ionization yields for H2 and D2. The measured ratio agrees quantitatively with the prediction of the generalized weak-field asymptotic theory in an apparent failure of the frozen-nuclei approximation.
Physical Review A
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