We study both experimentally and numerically the emission of energetic electrons during the reflection of a relativistic few-cycle laser pulse off a plasma mirror with controlled electron density gradient. A weak prepulse is used to trigger plasma expansion on a solid density target (optical grade fused silica) and electron emission is measured for different plasma scale lengths using a time-delayed relativistic-intensity few-cycle laser pulse with duration tunable from 24fs down to 3.5fs (1.5 cycle at the 719-nm carrier wave). Two distinct acceleration regimes are identified, for which the electron ejection mechanisms are radically different. On the one hand, when the plasma-vacuum interface is sharp, an attosecond electron bunch is emitted from the plasma at each laser optical cycle [1,2]. These electrons can then be efficiently accelerated in vacuum by the reflected laser field (vacuum laser acceleration or VLA) . On the other hand, when the plasma scale length is larger, on the scale of a few laser wavelengths, a different regime is identified in which we observe what appears to be a collimated laser wakefield accelerated electron beam. Back-acceleration of energetic electrons can be explained by ionization injection of the rotating plasma waves inside the inhomogeneous electron density gradient formed at the plasma mirror surface . These electrons are only detected when the laser pulse duration is shorter than 10 fs, clearly showing that new and unexpected laser-plasma interaction regimes become observable in the few-cycle regime.
 M. Bocoum et al., Anti-correlated emission of high harmonics and fast electron beams from plasma mirrors, Physical Review Letters 116, 185001 (2016)
 M. Thévenet et al., On the physics of electron ejection from laser-irradiated overdense plasmas, Physics of Plasmas 23, 063119 (2016)
 M. Thévenet, et al. Vacuum laser acceleration of relativistic electrons using plasma mirror injectors, Nature Physics 12, 355–360 (2015)
 N. Zaïm, et al. Laser wakefield acceleration driven by few-cycle laser pulses in overdense plasmas, manuscript in preparation
Nowadays imaging the early liver metastases has to be improved in order to have an easier setup than MRI or to be more discriminant than ultrasound between healthy and diseased tissues. Acousto-optic imaging could solve these issues by coupling itself with ultrasound modality: the additional optical contrast would suppress the indetermination on the health of the biological tissue.
Acousto-optic imaging is a multi-wave technique which localizes light in very scattering media thanks to an acoustic wave: the acousto-optic effect creates frequency-shifted light, carrying local information about the insonified volume. The central challenge of acousto-optic imaging is the detection of the frequency-shifted light, because there are only very few modulated photons and they create a speckle pattern. We choose to explore the detection by spectral filtering using the spectral hole burning process in rare earth doped crystal .
Spectral hole burning consists in creating a sub-MHz-wide transparency window in the wide absorption spectrum of a rare earth doped crystal: the crystal becomes transparent at the wavelength of the spectral hole and thus can filter the modulated light. This filtering technique is intrinsically immune to speckle decorrelation and therefore well adapted to in vivo imaging.
We use a YAG crystal doped with thulium ions under a magnetic field which increases the lifetime of the spectral hole from 10ms to longer than a minute. We have undertaken a spectroscopic study to optimize the hole preparation sequence. The long lifetime simplifies the optimization of fast imaging sequences, making real-time acousto-optic imaging reachable. We will present the first acousto-optic images achieved with a long-lived spectral filter in Tm:YAG, in a scattering medium.
 Li, Y., Zhang, H., Kim, C., Wagner, K. H., Hemmer, P., & Wang, L. V. (2008). Pulsed ultrasound-modulated optical tomography using spectral-hole burning as a narrowband spectral filter. Applied physics letters, 93(1), 011111.
Acousto-optic imaging is a multi-modal imaging technique where coherent light diffusing in a complex medium is ‘tagged’ over time by a ballistic ultrasound pulse of frequency ωus. The photons which paths cross with the ultrasound pulse undergo the acousto-optic effect, resulting in the frequency shift of ωus that can be selectively detected using heterodyne interferometry. Since the ultrasounds propagate at a known velocity, a time-to-space map of the tagged photons results in an image I(x, z), where x is the lateral direction and z the depth direction of the diffuse medium. Images at propagation depths much greater than the average mean free path, typically ~1mm in biological tissue, can be obtained. In most images obtained so far, the ultrasounds are focused line after line to recover an image, and therefore limited by the probe emission rate which is ~1-10 KHz depending on the probe size and the acoustic pulse power. Therefore, in order to acquire acoustic images at frame rates greater than 1 Hz for ‘direct visualization’ of the system under study, it is crucial to minimize the number of individual acquisitions necessary to reconstruct an image.
Here, we present an alternative probe configuration where plane waves emitted at various angles are used rather than focused waves to tag the diffuse light. This approach, first proposed by P.Kuchment and L.Kunyansky (2010), is similar to X-ray tomography since the image information is contained in the various angular scans performed for one acquisition. Because the piezo-elements on the acoustic probe are non-isotropic emitters, the angular scan is typically limited to +/20 degrees, which is sufficient to recover information and can be improved using more than one probe. An inversion algorithm based on inverse Radon-transform is than used to reconstruct the image
Imaging and identifying early metastases is, to this day, not an easy task: using MRI is expensive and ultrasound is not able to discriminate healthy and diseased tissues. Coupling ultrasound imaging to acousto-optic imaging could be a solution: the additional optical contrast would suppress the indetermination on the origin of the biological tissue.
Acousto-optic imaging is a multi-wave technique which localizes light in highly scattering medium thanks to an acoustic wave: the acousto-optic effect creates frequency-shifted light, carrying local information about the insonified volume. The central challenge of acousto-optic imaging is the detection of the frequency-shifted light, because there are only very few modulated photons and they create a speckle pattern. We choose to explore the detection by spectral filtering using the spectral hole burning phenomenon in a rare earth doped crystal . This filtering technique is intrinsically immune to speckle decorrelation and therefore well adapted to in vivo imaging.
We use a YAG crystal doped with thulium ions under a magnetic field which increases the lifetime of the spectral hole from 10ms to more than a minute. We have undertaken a spectroscopic study to optimize the hole preparation sequence. We will present the first acousto-optic images achieved with a long-lived spectral filter in Tm:YAG, in a scattering medium.
 Li, Y., Zhang, H., Kim, C., Wagner, K. H., Hemmer, P., & Wang, L. V. (2008). Applied Physics Letters, 93(1), 011111.
Controlled few-cycle light waveforms find numerous applications in attosecond science, most notably the production of isolated attosecond pulses in the XUV spectral region for studying ultrafast electronic processes in matter. Scaling up the pulse energy of few-cycle pulses could extend the scope of applications to even higher intensity processes, such as the generation of attosecond pulses with extreme brightness from relativistic plasma mirrors. Hollow-fiber compressors are widely used to produce few-cycle pulses with excellent spatiotemporal quality, whereby octave-spanning broadened spectra can be temporally compressed to near-single-cycle duration. In order to scale up the peak power of hollow-fiber compressors, the effective length and area mode of the fiber has to be increased proportionally, thereby requiring the use of longer waveguides with larger apertures. Thanks to an innovative design utilizing stretched flexible capillaries, we show that a stretched hollow-fiber compressor can generate pulses of TW peak power, the duration of which can be continuously tuned from the input seed laser pulse duration down to almost a single cycle (3.5fs at 750nm central wavelength) simply by increasing the gas pressure at the fiber end. The pulses are characterized online using an integrated d-scan device directly under vacuum. While the pulse duration and chirp are tuned, all other pulse characteristics, such as energy, pointing stability and focal distribution remain the same on target. This unique device makes it possible to explore the generation of high-energy attosecond XUV pulses from plasma mirrors using controllable relativistic-intensity light waveforms at 1kHz.