Abstract

The impact of high-frequency spectral phase modulation on the temporal contrast of ultrafast pulses is evaluated. Expressions are derived for the low-intensity pedestal produced by optical component surface roughness within pulse stretchers and compressors. Phase noise, added across the near-field of a spectrally dispersed beam, produces space–time coupling in the far-field or focal plane. The pedestal is swept across an area in the focal plane many times the size of the diffraction-limited spot. Simulations are performed for generic stretchers and compressors that show fundamentally different forms of temporal contrast degradation at focus.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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