Abstract

We recently introduced a new technique, frequency-resolved optical gating (FROG), for directly determining the full intensity I(t) and phase φ(t) of a single femtosecond pulse. By using almost any instantaneous nonlinear-optical interaction of two replicas of the ultrashort pulse to be measured, FROG involves measuring the spectrum of the signal pulse as a function of the delay between the replicas. The resulting trace of intensity versus frequency and delay yields an intuitive display of the pulse that is similar to the pulse spectrogram, except that the gate is a function of the pulse to be measured. The problem of inverting the FROG trace to obtain the pulse intensity and phase can also be considered a complex two-dimensional phase-retrieval problem. As a result, the FROG trace yields, in principle, an essentially unique pulse intensity and phase. We show that this is also the case in practice. We present an iterative-Fourier-transform algorithm for inverting the FROG trace. The algorithm is unusual in its use of a novel constraint: the mathematical form of the signal field. Without the use of a support constraint, the algorithm performs quite well in practice, even for pulses with serious phase distortions and for experimental data with noise, although it occasionally stagnates when pulses with large intensity fluctuations are used.

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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