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Ultra-short pulse generation from mid-IR to THz range using plasma wakes and relativistic ionization fronts

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posted on 2023-11-30, 21:04 authored by Zan Nie, Yipeng Wu, Chaojie Zhang, Warren B. Mori, Chan Joshi, Wei Lu, Chih-Hao Pai, Jianfei Hua, Jyhpyng Wang
This paper discusses numerical and experimental results on frequency downshifting and upshifting of a 10 $\mu$m infrared laser to cover the entire wavelength (frequency) range from $\lambda$=1-150 $\mu$m ($
u$=300-2 THz) using two different plasma techniques. The first plasma technique utilizes frequency downshifting of the drive laser pulse in a nonlinear plasma wake. Based on this technique, we have proposed and demonstrated that in a tailored plasma structure multi-millijoule energy, single-cycle, long-wavelength IR (3-20 $\mu$m) pulses can be generated by using an 810 nm Ti:sapphire drive laser. Here we extend this idea to the THz frequency regime. We show that sub-joule, terawatts, single-cycle terahertz (2-12 THz, or 150-25 $\mu$m) pulses can be generated by replacing the drive laser with a picosecond 10 $\mu$m CO$_2$ laser and a different shaped plasma structure. The second plasma technique employs frequency upshifting by colliding a CO$_2$ laser with a rather sharp relativistic ionization front created by ionization of a gas in less than half cycle (17 fs) of the CO$_2$ laser. Even though the electrons in the ionization front carry no energy, the frequency of the CO$_2$ laser can be upshifted due to the relativistic Doppler effect as the CO$_2$ laser pulse enters the front. The wavelength can be tuned from 1-10 $\mu$m by simply changing the electron density of the front. While the upshifted light with $5 <\lambda(\mu$m$)< 10$ propagates in the forward direction, that with $1 <\lambda(\mu$m$)< 5$ is back-reflected. These two plasma techniques seem extremely promising for covering the entire molecular fingerprint region.

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