Abstract

We analyze the spectral changes that occur when unfocused intense femtosecond pulses at 800 nm propagate through different atomic and molecular gases. The observed red shift in the self-phase-modulated spectra after propagation through N2, O2, and air is attributed to a delayed change of the nonlinear refractive index, a consequence of the molecular response to impulsive excitation of rotational coherences. We compare these results on the nonlinear refractive index with those obtained from Ar, Xe, and SF6.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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