E. Eremina, H. Rottke, W. Sandner, A. Dreischuh, F. Lindner, F. Grasbon, G.G. Paulus, H. Walther, R. Moshammer, B. Feuerstein, J. Ullrich
We use correlated electron-ion momentum measurements to investigate laser-induced non-sequential double ionization of Ar and Ne. Light intensities are chosen in a regime at and below the threshold where, within the rescattering model, electron impact ionization of the singly charged ion core is expected to become energetically forbidden. Yet we find Ar2+ ion momentum distributions and an electron-electron momentum correlation indicative of direct impact ionization. Within the quasistatic model this may be understood by assuming that the electric field of the light wave reduces the ionization potential of the singly charged ion core at the instant of scattering. The width of the projection of the ion momentum distribution onto an axis perpendicular to the light beam polarization vector is found to scale with the square root of the peak electric field strength in the light pulse. A scaling like this is not expected from the phase space available after electron impact ionization. It may indicate that the electric field at the instant of scattering is usually different from zero and determines the transverse momentum distribution. A comparison of our experimental results with several theoretical results is given.