Abstract

Focusing 12fs pulses of 800nm with moderate energy (0.35mJ) into atmospheric-pressure argon (Ar) gives rise to filamentation (self-focusing) and a supercontinuum with a very broad pedestal, extending to 250nm. According to the present understanding, the short wavelengths are produced by self-phase modulation in the self-steepened trailing edge of the pulse. Pulses in this spectral range might thus be intrinsically short. Indeed we demonstrate this by extracting the light near the end of the filament, terminating self-focusing by a pressure gradient at a pinhole, beyond which the Ar is pumped away. We obtain pulses of 9.7fs in the region of 290nm without the necessity of compression.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

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