Abstract

We numerically simulated the nonlinear propagation of high-power subpicosecond laser radiation at 10.6 μm carrier wavelength in air under conditions of pulse Kerr self-focusing and single and multiple filamentation. For the first time, to the best of our knowledge, we show that in contrast to the well-known femtosecond pulse filamentation in the near-infrared domain (800 nm), the self-action of mid-infrared radiation is characterized by the formation of millimeter-wide filaments accompanied by nearly continuous along the propagation direction and elongated plasma columns. The physical cause is the change of the air ionization regime by the CO2-laser pulse in favor of impact ionization and electron avalanche development. This alters the character of plasma influence on the laser radiation by enhancing the role of physical processes attributed to the liberated hot electrons.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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