Enhanced relativistic harmonics by electron nanobunching
It is shown that when a few-cycle, relativistically intense, p-polarized laser pulse is obliquely incident on overdense plasma, the surface electrons may form ultrathin, highly compressed layers with a width of a few nanometers. These electron “nanobunches” emit synchrotron radiation coherently. We calculate the one-dimensional synchrotron spectrum analytically and obtain a slowly decaying power law with an exponent of 4/3 or 6/5. This is much flatter than the 8/3 power of the Baeva–Gordienko–Pukhov spectrum, produced by a relativistically oscillating bulk skin layer. The synchrotron spectrum cutoff frequency is defined either by the electron relativistic γ-factor or by the thickness of the emitting layer. In the numerically demonstrated, locally optimal case, the radiation is emitted in the form of a single attosecond pulse, which contains almost the entire energy of the full optical cycle.