Abstract

We report on the lasing action of atmospheric air pumped by an 800 nm femtosecond laser pulse with peak power up to 4 TW. Lasing emission at 428 nm increases rapidly over a small range of pump laser power, followed by saturation above 1.5TW. The maximum lasing pulse energy is measured at 2.6 μJ corresponding to an emission power in the MW range, while a maximum conversion efficiency of 3.5×105 is measured at moderate pump pulse energy. The optical gain inside the filament plasma is estimated to be in excess of 0.7/cm. Lasing emission shows a doughnut profile, reflecting the spatial distribution of the pump-generated white-light continuum that acts as a seed for the lasing. We attribute the pronounced saturation to the defocusing of the seed in the plasma amplifying region and to the saturation of the seed intensity.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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