The papers in this volume cover the major areas of recent research activity in the fields of ultrafast optics and applications of high field and short wavelength sources, and these have been selected to provide an overview of the current state of the art. The contributions were solicited from the participants of the Joint Conference on Ultrafast Optics V and Applications of High Field and Short Wavelength Sources XI, Nara, Japan, September 2005. Merging two historic conferences was proposed, and also supported by the common members of the two communities, because the contents of both the conferences are now getting closer. Attosecond pulses are closely related to short wavelength sources and ultrafast optics and high-field physics are on the same technology base.
Recent progress in ultrafast optics provides carrier envelope phase stabilized pulses reaching to a quasi monocycle. These pulses are amplified by a new scheme using parametric process to an optical field of which strength is comparable to the binding forces of electrons in atoms and molecules. This allows to manipulate events on atomic and molecular dynamics. The intensity of the zettawatt/cm2 (1021 W/cm2) range opens the door to relativistic nonlinear optics and particle acceleration. Ultrafast intense light sources extend new wavelength range and thus make it possible generate of attosecond pulses in the XUV and soft X-ray spectral region, which enables to observe and manipulate the electron motion in atoms, molecules, and even during chemical reactions. Other technologies are also arising, such as terahertz (THz) radiation and X-ray pulse generation with applications in chemistry and biology.
We are greatly indebted to Teruto Kanai, University of Tokyo, for organizing and editing contributions to this book. We thank Japan Society for Promotion of Science, The Ogasawara Foundation for the Promotion of Science & Engineering, Nara Convention Bureau, and The Futaba Electronics Memorial Foundation for the financial support. And, of course, thanks to all the authors for allowing this book to cover the most exciting activities at the frontiers of this field.
Tokyo, Japan, Shuntaro Watanabe
Saitama, Japan, Katsumi Midorikawa