We report on laser emission at 337 nm and 357 nm from a filament generated in argon-nitrogen mixture by femtosecond mid-infrared pulses. Energies as high as 3.5 μJ are achieved which corresponds to 0.5% total conversion efficiency from 3.9-µm, 7-mJ 80-fs pulses. Stimulated emission in an argon—nitrogen mixture is also achieved in the case of 1.03-µm 6-mJ 200-fs driving pulses, however only in the presence of multiple filaments and with a far inferior optical-to-optical efficiency. This novel source emitting nanosecond near-UV pulses in the backward, with respect to the driving pulse, direction opens new possibilities remote atmospheric sensing.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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