Letter | Published:

Externally refuelled optical filaments

Nature Photonics volume 8, pages 297301 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

Plasma channels produced in air through femtosecond laser filamentation1,2,3,4 hold great promise for a number of applications, including remote sensing5, attosecond physics6,7 and spectroscopy8, channelling microwaves9,10,11,12 and lightning protection13. In such settings, extended filaments are desirable, yet their longitudinal span is limited by dissipative processes. Although various techniques aiming to prolong this process have been explored, the substantial extension of optical filaments remains a challenge14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that the natural range of a plasma column can be enhanced by at least an order of magnitude when the filament is prudently accompanied by an auxiliary beam. In this arrangement, the secondary low-intensity ‘dressing’ beam propagates linearly and acts as a distributed energy reservoir22, continuously refuelling the optical filament. Our approach offers an efficient and viable route towards the generation of extended light strings in air without inducing premature wave collapse or an undesirable beam break-up into multiple filaments2.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR; grants FA9550-10-1-056 and FA9550-12-1-0143) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA; grant HDTRA 1-14-1-0009).

Author information

Author notes

    • Maik Scheller
    •  & Matthew S. Mills

    These authors contributed equally to this work

Affiliations

  1. The College of Optical Sciences, The University of Arizona, 1630 East University Boulevard, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA

    • Maik Scheller
    • , Weibo Cheng
    • , Jerome V. Moloney
    • , Miroslav Kolesik
    •  & Pavel Polynkin
  2. CREOL, College of Optics and Photonics, University of Central Florida, PO Box 162700, Orlando, Florida 32816-2700, USA

    • Matthew S. Mills
    • , Mohammad-Ali Miri
    •  & Demetrios N. Christodoulides
  3. Department of Physics, Constantine the Philosopher University, Trieda A. Hlinku 1, 94974 Nitra, Slovakia

    • Miroslav Kolesik

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Contributions

M.S.M., M.K. and D.N.C. suggested the idea of dressed filaments. M.S.M., M.-A.M. and D.N.C. produced the manuscript, figures and accompanying Supplementary Information. M.S.M. explored the theoretical aspects of the paper and simulated the process using M.K.'s code. M.S., W.C., J.V.M. and P.P. carried out the experiments reported in this study.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Demetrios N. Christodoulides.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2014.47