Abstract

We report the results of an experiment and numerical simulations that demonstrate the large spatial extent and the effect of the so-called energy reservoir during the filamentation of femtosecond laser pulses in air. By inserting pinholes of different sizes in the filament path we observe different stages of development ranging from the termination of the filament, through its partial survival, to undisturbed propagation. A background containing up to 50% of the pulse energy is found to be necessary to maintain the filament formation, including a first refocusing.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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