Plasma channels produced in air through femtosecond laser filamentation hold great promise for a number of applications, including remote sensing, attosecond physics and spectroscopy, channelling microwaves and lightning protection. In such settings, extended filaments are desirable, yet their longitudinal span is limited by dissipative processes. Although various techniques aiming to prolong this process have been explored, the substantial extension of optical filaments remains a challenge. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that the natural range of a plasma column can be enhanced by at least an order of magnitude when the filament is prudently accompanied by an auxiliary beam. In this arrangement, the secondary low-intensity 'dressing' beam propagates linearly and acts as a distributed energy reservoir, continuously refuelling the optical filament. Our approach offers an efficient and viable route towards the generation of extended light strings in air without inducing premature wave collapse or an undesirable beam break-up into multiple filaments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics