Experimental tests of the new paradigm for laser filamentation in gases

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Abstract

Since their discovery in the mid-1990s, ultrafast laser filaments in gases have been described as products of a dynamic balance between Kerr self-focusing and defocusing by free electric charges that are generated via multiphoton ionization on the beam axis. This established paradigm has been recently challenged by a suggestion that the Kerr effect saturates and even changes sign at high intensity of light and that this sign reversal, not free-charge defocusing, is the dominant mechanism responsible for the extended propagation of laser filaments. We report qualitative tests of the new theory based on electrical and optical measurements of plasma density in femtosecond laser filaments. Our results consistently support the established paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number153902
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume106
Issue number15
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 15 2011

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filaments
defocusing
gases
lasers
self focusing
electric charge
Kerr effects
optical measurement
electrical measurement
plasma density
suggestion
ionization
propagation
products

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

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abstract = "Since their discovery in the mid-1990s, ultrafast laser filaments in gases have been described as products of a dynamic balance between Kerr self-focusing and defocusing by free electric charges that are generated via multiphoton ionization on the beam axis. This established paradigm has been recently challenged by a suggestion that the Kerr effect saturates and even changes sign at high intensity of light and that this sign reversal, not free-charge defocusing, is the dominant mechanism responsible for the extended propagation of laser filaments. We report qualitative tests of the new theory based on electrical and optical measurements of plasma density in femtosecond laser filaments. Our results consistently support the established paradigm.",
author = "Polynkin, {Pavel G} and Miroslav Kolesik and Wright, {Ewan M} and Moloney, {Jerome V}",
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AB - Since their discovery in the mid-1990s, ultrafast laser filaments in gases have been described as products of a dynamic balance between Kerr self-focusing and defocusing by free electric charges that are generated via multiphoton ionization on the beam axis. This established paradigm has been recently challenged by a suggestion that the Kerr effect saturates and even changes sign at high intensity of light and that this sign reversal, not free-charge defocusing, is the dominant mechanism responsible for the extended propagation of laser filaments. We report qualitative tests of the new theory based on electrical and optical measurements of plasma density in femtosecond laser filaments. Our results consistently support the established paradigm.

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