Abstract

We study femtosecond pulses at the focal plane of a perfectly conducting spherical mirror which is a dispersionless system, that is, it introduces no group velocity dispersion and no propagation time difference to the pulses after reflection. By using the scalar diffraction theory we will show that the neglected terms in the diffraction integral, when using the approximation of the bandwidth being smaller than the frequency of the carrier, have a significant influence on imaging if a laser pulse of a few femtoseconds is used in time-resolved imaging. The neglected terms introduce temporal spreading to extremely short pulses of a few optical cycles incident on the mirror, which avoids a fully compensated pulse, i.e., a one optical cycle pulse, at the focus of the mirror. The study in this paper also applies to refracting optical systems such as microscope objectives or lenses.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

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