Abstract

A femtosecond pulse with a peak intensity of 1017–1020 W/cm2 ionizes atoms nearly instantly, and most properties of the outgoing electron are determined by the motion of a free electron in a time-dependent electromagnetic field. The dominant contribution to the fluctuations of the energy of the photoelectrons comes from stochastic properties of the pulses rather than from quantum-mechanical uncertainties. We discuss the relativistic corrections that are important at such high intensities. Their effect on the angular distribution of the photoelectrons and on the spectrum of fluorescent light is stressed.

© 1990 Optical Society of America

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