Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


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This paper was published in Optics Letters 34, 539 (2009) and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of OSA. The paper can be found at the following URL on the OSA website: Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.


We have imaged optical-field ionized plasmas with electron densities as low as 1013 cm−3 on a picosecond timescale using ultrashort electron pulses. Electric fields generated by the separation of charges are imprinted on a 20 keV probe electron pulse and reveal a cloud of electrons expanding away from a positively charged plasma core. Our method allows for a direct measurement of the electron energy required to escape the plasma and the total charge. Simulations reproduce the main features of the experiment and allow determination of the energy of the electrons.

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