Abstract

The cross-polarized wave-generation (XPW) nonlinearity has become the standard solution for producing high-contrast pulses in the amplification chain of femtosecond high-power laser systems. These high-contrast pulses are essential for the study of laser–plasma interaction with solid targets, and therefore it is very important to advance our understanding of how XPW works. The BaF2 crystal is the most common solution for implementing this technique, but until now the theoretical models have focused on pulse propagation inside XPW crystals with long focal lengths in order to ensure a clean spatial profile. In this kind of situation, diffraction in the crystal can be neglected. In this paper, we present a 3D model of XPW that includes diffraction and dispersion by solving a nonlinear Schrödinger equation with short focal lengths. The model describes the creation of the orthogonal wave along the crystal, taking into account the spatiotemporal phases of the new contributions and the propagations of the fields inside the crystal. Using this model, we show that pulses with complex polarization in space and time can be produced for certain parameters (low energy and short focal lengths). The origin of these complex structures is described in terms of the interference between different contributions of the orthogonal wave inside the crystal.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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