We investigate the temporal precision in the generation of ultrashort
laser pulse pairs by pulse shaping techniques. To this end, we combine a
femtosecond polarization pulse shaper with a polarizer and employ two
linear spectral phase masks to mimic an ultrastable common-path
interferometer. In an all-optical experiment we study the interference
signal resulting from two temporally delayed pulses. Our results show a
2 sigma-precision of 300 zs = 300 x 10(-21) s in pulse-to-pulse delay.
The standard deviation of the mean is 11 zs. The obtained precision
corresponds to a variation of the arm's length in conventional delay
stage based interferometers of 0.45 angstrom. We apply these precisely
generated pulse pairs to a strong-field quantum control experiment.
Coherent control of ultrafast electron dynamics via photon locking by
temporal phase discontinuities on a few attosecond timescale is
demonstrated. (C) 2011 Optical Society of America