Abstract

Ionization is a fundamental process in intense laser–matter interactions and is known to cause plasma defocusing and intensity clamping. Here, we investigate theoretically the propagation dynamics of an intense laser pulse in a helium gas jet in the ionization saturation regime, and we find that the pulse undergoes self-focusing and self-compression through ionization-induced reshaping, resulting in a manyfold increase in laser intensity. This unconventional behavior is associated with the spatiotemporal frequency variation mediated by ionization and spatiotempral coupling. Our results illustrate a new regime of pulse propagation and open up an optics-less approach for raising laser intensity.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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Supplementary Material (1)

NameDescription
Visualization 1       Evolution of spatiotemporal intensity profiles of an intense pulse propagating in a highly ionized helium gas showing self-focusing and self-compression.

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