Abstract

We address the long-standing problem of anomalous growth observed in the terahertz (THz) energy yield from air plasmas created by two-color laser pulses, as the fundamental wavelength λ0 is increased. Using two distinct optical parametric amplifiers (OPAs), we report THz energies scaling like λ0α with large exponents 5.6α14.3, which departs from the growth in λ02 expected from photocurrent theory. By means of comprehensive 3D simulations, we demonstrate that the changes in the laser beam size, pulse duration, and phase-matching conditions in the second-harmonic generation process when tuning the OPA’s carrier wavelength can lead to these high scaling powers. The value of the phase angle between the two colors reached at the exit of the doubling crystal turns out to be crucial and even explains non-monotonic behaviors in the measurements.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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