Onset of Coulomb explosion in small silicon clusters exposed to strong-field laser pulses

S. G. Sayres, M. W. Ross, A. W. Castleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


It is now well established that, under intense laser illumination, clusters undergo enhanced ionization compared to their isolated atomic and molecular counterparts being subjected to the same pulses. This leads to extremely high charge states and concomitant Coulomb explosion. Until now, the cluster size necessary for ionization enhancement has not been quantified. Here, we demonstrate that through the comparison of ion signal from small covalently bound silicon clusters exposed to low intensity laser pulses with semi-classical theory, their ionization potentials (IPs) can be determined. At moderate laser intensities the clusters are not only atomized, but all valence electrons are removed from the cluster, thereby producing up to Si4+. The effective IPs for the production of the high charge states are shown to be ∼40% lower than the expected values for atomic silicon. Finally, the minimum cluster size responsible for the onset of the enhanced ionization is determined utilizing the magnitude of the kinetic energy released from the Coulomb explosion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number055014
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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