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Two statistical regimes in the transition to filamentation
preprintposted on 2023-01-07, 17:02 authored by Alexis Gomel, Geoffrey Gaulier, Debbie Eeltink, Maura Brunetti, Jérôme Kasparian
We experimentally investigate fluctuations in the spectrum of ultrashort laser pulses propagating in air, close to the critical power for filamentation. Increasing the laser peak power broadens the spectrum while the beam approaches the filamentation regime. We identify two regimes for this transition: In the center of the spectrum, the output spectral intensity increases continuously. In contrast, on the edges of the spectrum the transition implies a bimodal probability distribution function for intermediate incident pulse energies, where a high-intensity mode appears and grows at the expense of the original low-intensity mode. We argue that this dual behavior prevents the definition of a univoquial threshold for filamentation, shedding a new light on the long-standing lack of explicit definition of the boundary of the filamentation regime.