Laser-induced autoionization, a form of forced autoionization, is discussed. Highly excited atomic Rydberg states generally have a small cross section for photoionization due to their small overlap with the nucleus. The cross section for photoionization can be strongly enhanced if the Rydberg series is perturbed by an atomic state with a relatively large cross section for photoionization. The photoionization dynamics of such a perturbed Rydberg system shows strong similarities to that of an autoionizing Rydberg series. For intense laser pulses, which strongly couple the perturber to the continuum, the photoionization rate is limited by the coupling between the Rydberg states and the perturber or, in other words, the autoionization rate. The model describing this ionization dynamics is applied to the barium 6 snd(l,3D 2) state, which is perturbed by the 5d7d(l D 2) state. The calculations show good agreement with experimental results of photoionization of barium Rydberg states with subpicosecond laser pulses of light of 620 nm in wavelength.

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Journal Phys. Rev. A
Vrijen, R. B, Hoogenraad, J. H, & Noordam, L. D. (1995). Short-pulse photoionization of perturbed Rydberg states: Laser-induced autoionization. Phys. Rev. A, 52, 2279–2287.