Abstract

The filamentational instability of spatially broadband femtosecond optical pulses in air is investigated by means of a kinetic wave equation for spatially incoherent photons. An explicit expression for the spatial amplification rate is derived and analyzed. It is found that the spatial spectral broadening of the pulse can lead to stabilization of the filamentation instability. Thus optical smoothing techniques could optimize current applications of ultrashort laser pulses, such as atmospheric remote sensing.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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