Abstract

We report the changes observed in intense (∼1015 W cm−2) 1-μm-wavelength laser pulses propagating through argon and krypton at a range of densities below and above atmospheric. The transmitted pulses show blue shifting of the fundamental spectrum and defocusing of the spatial profile. Our interpretation is aided by simultaneous measurements of the plasma luminescence and also by comparison with a two-dimensional numerical model. We infer from our results that laser-induced collisional ionization is important at the higher gas densities even when pulses with a duration as short as 2 ps are used.

© 1996 Optical Society of America

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