Abstract

We investigate the nonlinear optical phenomenon of self-focusing in air with phase-stabilized few-cycle light pulses. This investigation looks at the role of the carrier-envelope phase by observing a filament in air, a nonlinear phenomenon that can be utilized for few-cycle pulse compression [Appl. Phys. B 79, 673 (2004) ]. We were able to measure the critical power for self-focusing in air to be 18±1  GW for a 6.3 fs pulse centered at 800 nm. Using this value and a basic first-order theory, we predicted that the self-focusing distance should deviate by 790μm as the carrier-envelope phase is shifted from 0 to π/2  rad. In contrast, the experimental results showed no deviation in the focus distance with a 3σ upper limit of 180μm. These counterintuitive results show the need for further study of self-focusing dynamics in the few-cycle regime.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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