The interaction of subcycle pulses with quantum systems is considered when the pulse duration becomes much smaller than the timescales of electron oscillations. We show analytically that the interaction process in this case is governed by the electric pulse area. The efficient nonresonant excitation of quantum systems by subcycle pulses with a high degree of unipolarity is demonstrated. The results are confirmed by direct numerical solution of multilevel Bloch equations.
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27 February 2019: A typographical correction was made to the body text.
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