The conditions for filamentation of femtosecond pulse laser radiation when focusing in air are studied experimentally and theoretically. A good agreement between experimental and calculated results is shown if neglecting the filament plasma. It is shown that the Kerr nonlinearity plays a fundamental role in the generation, existence, and cessation of a filament at a small numerical aperture (NA ≤ 2.15 × 10–3). The Kerr effect first leads to the beam self-focusing and generation of a filament, and at the final stage, to radiation defocusing and a sharp decrease in its axial intensity due to the beam wavefront distortions. In the case of aberration focusing, a spatial quasi-soliton is formed after a visible filament due to the balance between Kerr self-focusing and diffraction spreading. The quasi-soliton is a source of the directional white supercontinuum.
- Kerr nonlinearity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Earth-Surface Processes
- Atmospheric Science