Abstract

We demonstrate compression of high-energy ultrashort laser pulses by nonlinear propagation inside gas-filled planar hollow waveguides. We adjust the input beam size along the nonguided dimension of the planar waveguide to restrain the intensity below photoionization, while the relatively long range guided propagation yields significant self-phase modulation and spectral broadening. We compare the compression in different noble gases and obtain 13.6 fs duration with output pulse energy of 8.1 mJ in argon and 11.5 fs duration with 7.6 mJ energy in krypton. The broadened spectra at the output of the waveguide are uniform over more than 70% of the total pulse energy. Shorter duration could be obtained at the expense of the introduction of spatial structure in the beam (and eventual formation of filaments) resulting from small-scale self-focusing in the nonguided direction.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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