The pulse envelope of an ultrashort pulsed beam is evaluated on the focal points of a Fresnel zone plate. The description of the field dynamics is given in terms of a diffraction-induced pulse train. Within these terms we follow an analytical procedure to characterize the temporal broadening observed at the principal focus, which is significant if the number of Fresnel zones exceeds the number of cycles in the pulse. For Gaussian-type envelopes, the focal field may be accurately expressed in a simple closed form. This expression has a flat-top shape at the principal focus and other odd-order foci, and a two-peak envelope in the case of a low-integer even-order focus. Finally, extremely high orders present a time-domain evolution that emulates a train of uniform pulses with temporal characteristics equivalent to those of the incident beam.
© 2006 Optical Society of America
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