When rare gas atoms are submitted to a short pulse of radiation delivered by an infrared laser with peak intensity beyond I ? 1018 W/cm2, highly charged ionic species and fast electrons are produced. In this context, we discuss several issues raised by the results reported in very recent experiments, in which ion yields have been measured. We shall address the questions related to the population dynamics of the successive ionization stages, in order to account for the observed ion production yields in finite duration pulses.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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