Abstract

We derive an analytical approximation for the measured pulse width error in spectral shearing methods, such as spectral phase interferometry for direct electric-field reconstruction (SPIDER), caused by an anomalous delay between the two sheared pulse components. This analysis suggests that, as pulses approach the single-cycle limit, the resulting requirements on the calibration and stability of this delay become significant, requiring precision orders of magnitude higher than the scale of a wavelength. This is demonstrated by numerical simulations of SPIDER pulse reconstruction using actual data from a sub-two-cycle laser. We briefly propose methods to minimize the effects of this sensitivity in SPIDER and review variants of spectral shearing that attempt to avoid this difficulty.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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