Water Molecules in Ultrashort Intense Laser Fields
Ionization and excitation of water molecules in intense laser pulses are studied theoretically by solving the three-dimensional time-dependent electronic Schrödinger equation within the single-active-electron approximation. The possibility to image orbital densities by measurement of the orientation-dependent ionization of H2O in few-cycle, 800 nm linear-polarized laser pulses is investigated. While the highest-occupied molecular orbital 1b1 is found to dominate the overall ionization behavior, contributions from the energetically lower lying 3a1 orbital dominate the ionization yield in the nodal plane of the 1b1 orbital. The ratio of the ionization yields of the two orbitals depends on the intensity. Furthermore, even for laser pulses as long as 8 cycles the orientation-dependent ion yield depends on the carrier-envelope phase. In the interpretation of the orientation-dependent ionization as an imaging tool these effects have to be considered.