Abstract

Intense few-cycle laser pulses as short as 5.1 fs are generated though self-filamentation in a noble gas atmosphere. We study the dependence of the laser pulse fidelity on the driving pulse profile and chirp as well as on the gas parameters, quantify their pointing stability and spatial quality.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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References

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Appl. Phys. B

Telle, H., et al., "Carrier-envelope offset phase control: A novel concept for absolute optical frequency measurement and ultrashort pulse generation," Appl. Phys. B 69, 327-332 (1999)
[CrossRef]

Nisoli, M., et al., "A novel high-energy pulse compression system: generation of multigigawatt sub-5-fs pulses," Appl. Phys. B 65, 189-196 (1997)
[CrossRef]

Hauri, C.P., et al., "Generation of intense, carrier-envelope phase-locked few-cycle laser pulses through filamentation," Appl. Phys. B 79, 673-677 (2004)
[CrossRef]

Kornelis, W., et al., "Single-shot dynamics of pulses from a gas-filled hollow fiber," Appl. Phys. B 79, 1033-1039 (2004)
[CrossRef]

Appl. Phys. Lett.

Nisoli, M., S. DeSilvestri, and O. Svelto, "Generation of high energy 10 fs pulses by a new pulse compression technique," Appl. Phys. Lett. 68, 2793-2795 (1996)
[CrossRef]

IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quant. Electron.

Baltuska, A., et al., "Phase-controlled amplification of few-cycle laser pulses," IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quant. Electron. 9, 972-989 (2003)
[CrossRef]

J. Electron Spectrosc. Relat. Phenom.

Drescher, M., et al., "Time-resolved electron spectroscopy of atomic inner-shell dynamics," J. Electron Spectrosc. Relat. Phenom. 137, 259-264 (2004)
[CrossRef]

J. Mod. Opt.

Couairon, A., et al., "Self-compression of ultrashort laser pulses down to one optical cycle by filamentation," J. Mod. Opt. 2005.in press.

Nature

Hentschel, M., et al., "Attosecond metrology," Nature 414, 509-513 (2001)
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Drescher, M., et al., "Time-resolved atomic inner-shell spectroscopy," Nature 419, 803-807 (2002)
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Baltuska, A., et al., "Attosecond control of electronic processes by intense light fields," Nature 421, 611-615 (2003)
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Opt. Lett.

Science

Kienberger, R., et al., "Steering attosecond electron wave packets with light," Science 297, 1144-1148 (2002)
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

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Figures (6)

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Experimental setup. Intense laser pulses are focused by a spherical mirror (R1, ROC = -2000 mm) into the argon-filled 160-cm-long cell (1) where filamentary propagation occurs. After recompression by four bounces on chirped mirrors (CM), the beam is refocused by spherical mirror R2 (ROC = -2000 mm) for the formation of a second filament in cell 2 and subsequent group-delay dispersion compensation by 6 bounces on ultra-broadband double-chirped mirrors (CM). SPIDER measurements are performed at three different positions (label ①,②,③): after the amplifier, after the first filament and after the second filament. Beam pointing fluctuations are measured behind the second filament with a position-sensitive detector (PSD) and a focusing lens L (f=50 cm).

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Centroid movement of the laser beam at the exit of the filamentation setup for 1500 consecutive laser shots. The data is recorded with a 14 Bit CCD camera (Wincam, DataRay Inc.) for the evacuated cell ((a); no filamentation) and for the case when the pulse filaments (b).

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Temporal shape of the laser pulses with different chirps (left) creating the first filament. Group delay dispersion of the input pulse is altered systematically by varying amplifier compressor settings (see Table 1) yielding pulses from 59.8 fs to close to transform-limited 33.2 fs pulses. The shortest pulse after filamentary spectral broadening and compression by chirped mirrors (right) was measured for a positively chirped 41.7-fs input pulse (bold, number 3). Pulse 3 exhibits the smallest prepulse-to-mainpulse peak ratio and yields broadest spectrum after the first filament.

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Pressure scan in the first gas cell filled with Ar. The temporal pulse shapes (a) are reconstructed by SPIDER for a set of different gas pressures, ranging from 140 mbar up to 940 mbar. Pulse shortening is observed with a limit of 11.2 fs at 900 mbar. The measured pulse duration ((b), solid line) decreases almost linearly with higher pressure and are compressed close to the transform-limit (dashed line) by chirped mirrors which remained unchanged during the experiment. The large leap in pulse duration beyond 900 mbar is caused by beam profile break-up yielding significant laser beam distortion.

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

Pressure dependence of output pulses from the second gas cell. a) The reconstructed temporal pulse profile after filamentary propagation in argon are plotted for various gas pressures. b) The Fourier-transfom limited (TL) pulse duration (dashed line) is decreasing almost linearly for higher pressures to a minimum of 4.1 fs at 750 mbar. The measured (solid line) pulse shows shortest duration (≈6 fs) at 650 mbar. The deviation from the TL pulse is attributed to imperfect GDD compensation by double-chirped mirrors.

Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

Pulse and associated spectrum and phase a)after the first filament cell (11 fs) b) after the second filament cell (5.1 fs)

Tables (1)

Tables Icon

Table 1. Table of laser parameters for amplifier and filament output for four different pulses. The amplifier output was optimized to achieve shortest pulse duration after the filament. Largest spectral broadening, supporting a transform-limited (TL) 9.8-fs pulse was achieved by a clean, positively chirped input pulse (no. 3). The crucial input parameter for best compression is neither peak power nor initial pulse duration and slope, but seems to be best pulse contrast ratio (i.e. smallest prepulse-mainpulse peak ratio). After filamentation peak power is increased by more than 360% for the optimum pulse number 3. Pulse number 3 generated the broadest filament spectrum. In contrast to others, this pulse exhibits the smallest pre-to-main pulse ratio (2.1%), which turned out to play the major role for optimum SPM during filamentation. The corresponding emerging filament pulse had a 9.8-fs theoretical limit and a measured duration of 11.2-fs. These measurements indicate that a clean temporal pulse shape without any pre-pulses seems to be best driver pulse for filamentation and for largest spectral broadening, even though the provided pulse intensity is not the highest possible in this case.

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