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Using 1D and 2D PIC simulations, we describe and model the backward ejection of electron bunches when a laser pulse reflects off an overdense plasma with a short density gradient on its front side. The dependence on the laser intensity and gradient scale length is studied. It is found that during each laser period, the incident laser pulse generates a large charge-separation field, or plasma capacitor, which accelerates an attosecond bunch of electrons toward vacuum. This process is maximized for short gradient scale lengths and collapses when the gradient scale length is comparable to the laser wavelength. We develop a model that reproduces the electron dynamics and the dependence on laser intensity and gradient scale length. This process is shown to be strongly linked with high harmonic generation via the Relativistic Oscillating Mirror mechanism.


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