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Manipulation of polarizations for broadband terahertz waves emitted from laser plasma filaments

Nature Photonicsvolume 12pages554559 (2018) | Download Citation


Polarization control of broadband terahertz waves is essential for applications in many areas, such as materials science, medical and biological diagnostics, near-field communications and public securities. Conventional methods for polarization control are limited to narrow bandwidth and often with low efficiency. Here, based on theoretical and experimental studies, we demonstrate that the two-colour laser scheme in gas plasma can provide effective control of elliptically polarized terahertz waves, including their ellipticity, azimuthal angle and chirality. This is achieved with a circularly polarized laser at the fundamental frequency and its linearly polarized second harmonic, a controlled phase difference between these two laser components, as well as a suitable length of the laser plasma filament. Flexible control of ellipticity and azimuthal angle is demonstrated with our theoretical model and systematic experiments. This offers a unique and flexible technique on the polarization control of broadband terahertz radiation suitable for a wide range of applications.

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This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (grant no. 2014CB339801), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants nos. 11474202, 11655002, 11774228 and 11721091) and the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (grant no. 16DZ2260200). Z.S. acknowledges the support of a Leverhulme Trust Research Grant at the University of Strathclyde.

Author information


  1. Key Laboratory for Laser Plasmas (Ministry of Education), School of Physics and Astronomy, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China

    • Zhelin Zhang
    • , Yanping Chen
    • , Sen Cui
    • , Feng He
    • , Min Chen
    • , Zhen Zhang
    • , Jin Yu
    • , Liming Chen
    • , Zhengming Sheng
    •  & Jie Zhang
  2. Collaborative Innovation Centre of IFSA, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China

    • Zhelin Zhang
    • , Yanping Chen
    • , Sen Cui
    • , Feng He
    • , Min Chen
    • , Zhen Zhang
    • , Liming Chen
    • , Zhengming Sheng
    •  & Jie Zhang
  3. Department of Physics, SUPA, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK

    • Zhengming Sheng
  4. Tsung-Dao Lee Institute, Shanghai, China

    • Zhengming Sheng
  5. Cockcroft Institute, Sci-Tech Daresbury, Warrington, UK

    • Zhengming Sheng


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Z.L.Z., Y.C. and Z.S. conceived the study and wrote the main manuscript. Z.L.Z. and Y.C. carried out the experiments and analysed the data. Z.L.Z., Y.C., S.C. and F.H. developed the theoretical model. F.H. and M.C. provided theoretical support. Z.Z., J.Y., L.C. and J.Z. provided experimental support. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Yanping Chen or Zhengming Sheng.

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