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Science. 2009 Apr 10;324(5924):229-32. doi: 10.1126/science.1169544.

Curved plasma channel generation using ultraintense Airy beams.

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  • 1College of Optical Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA. ppolynkin@optics.arizona.edu

Abstract

Plasma channel generation (or filamentation) using ultraintense laser pulses in dielectric media has a wide spectrum of applications, ranging from remote sensing to terahertz generation to lightning control. So far, laser filamentation has been triggered with the use of ultrafast pulses with axially symmetric spatial beam profiles, thereby generating straight filaments. We report the experimental observation of curved plasma channels generated in air using femtosecond Airy beams. In this unusual propagation regime, the tightly confined main intensity feature of the axially nonsymmetric laser beam propagates along a bent trajectory, leaving a curved plasma channel behind. Secondary channels bifurcate from the primary bent channel at several locations along the beam path. The broadband radiation emanating from different longitudinal sections of the curved filament propagates along angularly resolved trajectories.

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