There is a strong push worldwide to develop multi-Joule femtosecond duration laser pulses at wavelengths around 3.5-4 and 9-11μm within important atmospheric transmission windows. We have shown that pulses with a 4 μm central wavelength are capable of delivering multi-TW powers at km range. This is in stark contrast to pulses at near-IR wavelengths which break up into hundreds of filaments with each carrying around 5 GW of power per filament over meter distances. We will show that nonlinear envelope propagators fail to capture the true physics. Instead a new optical carrier shock singularity emerges that can act to limit peak intensities below the ionization threshold leading to low loss long range propagation. At LWIR wavelengths many-body correlations of weakly-ionized electrons further suppress the Kerr focusing nonlinearity around 10μm and enable whole beam self-trapping without filaments.
Jerome V. Moloney, Kolja Schuh, Paris Panagiotopoulos, M. Kolesik, and S. W. Koch, "Long range robust multi-terawatt MWIR and LWIR atmospheric light bullets," Proc. SPIE 10193, Ultrafast Bandgap Photonics II, 101930K (Presented at SPIE Defense + Security: April 11, 2017; Published: 8 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2262142.
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