The ability to transfer electrons from valence to conduction band states in a semiconductor is the basis of modern electronics. Here, attosecond spectroscopy is used to resolve this process in real-time. The excitation of electrons across the band-gap of silicon by few-cycle laser pulses is found to induce lasting modifications of the XUV absorbance spectrum in steps synchronized with the laser electric field oscillations, indicative of light-field induced electron tunneling [1]. In contrast, in SiO2, a dielectric with 9 eV band-gap, similar excitation pulses are found to cause a transient field-induced polarizability without lasting population transfer [2].

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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