An improved Z-scan analysis approach is proposed by establishing and solving the saturable absorption (SA) and reverse-SA (RSA) models, respectively. Near-infrared femtosecond Z-scans are carried out on the synthesized gold nanorods (NRs) possessing the average length of 46 nm using a femtosecond laser operated at the wavelength of 800 nm, which is close to the peak position of longitudinal surface plasmon resonance (SPR) (710 nm) of gold NRs. At lower input intensity of less than 400 GW/cm<sup>2</sup>, the normalized transmission exhibits only SA phenomenon; however, when it exceeds 400 GW/cm<sup>2</sup>, both SA and RSA are observed. By using the presented Z-scan modeling and theory, the three-photon absorption (3PA) is identified in the material, and the 3PA cross-section is determined to be 1.58×0<sup>-71</sup> cm<sup>6</sup>s<sup>2</sup>.
© 2012 Chinese Optics LettersPDF Article