We present a time-transformation approach for studying the propagation of optical pulses inside a nonlinear medium. Unlike the conventional way of solving for the slowly varying amplitude of an optical pulse, our new approach maps directly the input electric field to the output one, without making the slowly varying envelope approximation. Conceptually, the time-transformation approach shows that the effect of propagation through a nonlinear medium is to change the relative spacing and duration of various temporal slices of the pulse. These temporal changes manifest as self-phase modulation in the spectral domain and self-steepening in the temporal domain. Our approach agrees with the generalized nonlinear Schrödinger equation for 100 fs pulses and the finite-difference time-domain solution of Maxwell’s equations for two-cycle pulses, while producing results 20 and 50 times faster, respectively.
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