We have used a commercially available liquid-crystal spatial light modulator within a reflective optics pulse-shaping apparatus to shape ultrashort pulses with temporal resolution approaching 10 fs. Using the spatial light modulator as a phase modulator, we produce a variety of complex ultrafast waveforms, including odd pulses, high repetition rate (>23 THz) pulse trains, and asymmetric pulse trains. We also show that it is possible to compensate for large amounts of high-order phase dispersion (in excess of 60π) by appropriate cubic- and quartic-phase modulations of the pulse. Finally, we examine the limitations of shaping ultrabroad-bandwidth pulses. We find that, for specific classes of waveforms, Fourier-transform pulse-shaping techniques can be used for pulses with 5-fs durations, which exceed the current state of the art in ultrashort pulse generation. However, synthesis of general waveforms with 5-fs resolution will require compensating for nonlinear spatial dispersion of frequency in the masking plane.
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