Abstract

A purely time-domain approach is proposed for the propagation of vectorial ultrafast beams in free space beyond the paraxial and the slowly varying envelope approximations. As an example of application of this method, we describe in detail the vectorial properties of an ultrafast tightly focused transverse-magnetic (TM01) beam, where special attention is given to the longitudinal electric field component. We show that for spot sizes at the waist comparable to the wavelength, the beam diverges more rapidly than expected from paraxial theory. A consequence of this phenomenon is a faster decrease of the amplitude of the longitudinal field away from the waist and a faster evolution of the axial Gouy phase shift in the vicinity of the focus. It has been observed that the phase of the beam has an overall variation of 2π from z= to , independent of the beam spot size at the waist and pulse duration.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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