The aim of this NATO Advanced Study Institute was to bring together scientists and students working in the field of laser matter interactions in order to review and stimulate developmentoffundamental science with ultra-short pulse lasers. New techniques of pulse compression and colliding-pulse mode-locking have made possible the construction of lasers with pulse lengths in the femtosecond range. Such lasers are now in operation at several research laboratories in Europe and the United States. These laser facilities present a new and exciting research direction with both pure and applied science components. In this ASI the emphasis is on fundamental processes occurring in the interaction of short laser pulses with atoms, molecules, solids, and plasmas. In the case of laser-atom (molecule) interactions, high power lasers provide the first access to extreme high-intensity conditions above 10'8 Watts/em', a new frontier for nonlinear interaction of photons with atoms and molecules. New phenomena observed include multiphoton ionization processes, atomic collisions in the presence of a strong laser field, Coulomb explosion following rapid ionization of a molecule and the production of high harmonics of the laser source. Another important topic reviewed in this ASI is the lasercooling ofatoms.
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