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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 18, Iss. 18 — Aug. 30, 2010
  • pp: 18894–18899
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Coherent control of THz pulses polarization from femtosecond laser filaments in gases

Jean-Michel Manceau, Maria Massaouti, and Stelios Tzortzakis  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 18, Issue 18, pp. 18894-18899 (2010)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.18.018894


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Abstract

We demonstrate the possibility to rotate the polarization of linearly polarized THz pulses via the accurate control of the 2-color filament surrounding gas pressure. We also show ways to produce elliptically and circularly polarized THz pulses.

© 2010 OSA

1. Introduction

Based on the results of the above studies one could expect to achieve similar THz polarization control when changing the two-color filament medium gas pressure. The change of pressure will induce a wavelength dependent change of the refractive index, which in turn will affect the phase of the synthesized laser field and consequently offer coherent control on the emitted THz pulse polarization. In the past, some studies have been performed exploring the effect that different gas species, at various pressures, have on the THz emission [1

1. K. Y. Kim, A. J. Taylor, J. H. Glownia, and G. Rodriguez, “Coherent control of terahertz supercontinuum generation in ultrafast laser-gas interactions,” Nat. Photonics 2(10), 605–609 (2008). [CrossRef]

,9

9. M. D. Thomson, M. Kreß, T. Loffler, and H. G. Roskos, “Broadband THz emission from gas plasmas induced by femtosecond optical pulses: From fundamentals to applications,” Laser Photon. Rev. 1(4), 349–368 (2007). [CrossRef]

11

11. A. V. Balakin, A. V. Borodin, I. A. Kotelnikov, and A. P. Shkurinov, “Terahertz emission from a femtosecond laser focus in a two-color scheme,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 27(1), 16–26 (2010). [CrossRef]

]. Though, till now no one has studied in detail the possible control this can offer on the THz polarization properties.

In this letter, we demonstrate the direct control the THz pulse polarization through accurate control of the surrounding gas pressure of a two-color plasma filament at relatively low input laser energy. Furthermore, and for the first time to our knowledge, we report the measurement of a circularly polarized THz light from Xenon gas. This result is of major importance for spectroscopic applications and THz applications in biology.

2. Experiment

For the experiments reported here, we used an amplified kHz Ti:Sa laser system delivering 35 fs pulses at 800 nm central wavelength and maximum energy of 2.3 mJ per pulse, with Gaussian profile and a full width half maximum (FWHM) diameter of 6.6 mm. The laser beam is focused within a gas cell using a 200 mm positive lens. A type-I β-BBO crystal (100 μm thick) is housed within the pressure chamber in order to partially double in frequency the fundamental laser pulse and form a dual-color plasma filament. Its front window is made of a fused silica plate of 2 mm thickness; the rear window consists of a 3mm thick polyethylene (measured cut-off frequency at 20 THz). The emitted THz radiation is collected and refocused onto a broadband (0.1 to 30 THz) thermal pyroelectric detector, with a pair of parabolic mirrors through non purged air. An extra silicon wafer with 1 mm thickness was placed between the two parabolas to cut the small fraction of remaining optical light. A broadband THz polarizer is used to conduct the polarization analysis with constant degree of polarization (>99.5%) over the whole frequency range under study (0.1-20 THz).

3. Results and discussion

With the above described experimental arrangement we performed a systematic study for nitrogen over a pressure range spanning from 10 mbar to 1 bar and for input laser energy of 240 μJ. At this level of laser energy, the plasma string remains relatively short and the phase walk-off occurring in the plasma channel can be neglected. The results are presented in Fig. 1
Fig. 1 Detected THz power as function of nitrogen gas pressure (Dots and black curve) and THz pulse polarization states at different pressure levels. The upper axis (blue colored) represents the calculated phase variation.
.

First, one can notice that the emission of THz pulses can be divided in two distinct regimes. There is a first regime for pressures below 100 mbar where the THz emission increases linearly with the air density. In this low pressure regime, as it was already reported in [9

9. M. D. Thomson, M. Kreß, T. Loffler, and H. G. Roskos, “Broadband THz emission from gas plasmas induced by femtosecond optical pulses: From fundamentals to applications,” Laser Photon. Rev. 1(4), 349–368 (2007). [CrossRef]

], the gas medium is fully ionized while the degree of plasma defocusing is relatively low. On the other hand, at gas pressures higher than 100 mbar, the plasma defocusing becomes dominant [9

9. M. D. Thomson, M. Kreß, T. Loffler, and H. G. Roskos, “Broadband THz emission from gas plasmas induced by femtosecond optical pulses: From fundamentals to applications,” Laser Photon. Rev. 1(4), 349–368 (2007). [CrossRef]

] and the total emission of THz is relatively constant over the whole pressure range. At the same time and more importantly, the polarization measurements of the emitted THz pulse shows a π/2 polarization rotation over 650 mbar of the gas medium pressure with quasi constant THz power and linear pulse polarization. As mentioned above the change of the surrounding gas pressure systematically leads to a change of the relative dispersion between the two laser fields. In turn, this change in refractive index leads to a change in the relative phase between the ω and 2ω, Δφ   =     ω   d(nω-n)/c. One can accurately predict the change in the dispersion using the pressure dependent Sellmeier equation [12

12. A. Börzsönyi, Z. Heiner, M. P. Kalashnikov, A. P. Kovács, and K. Osvay, “Dispersion measurement of inert gases and gas mixtures at 800 nm,” Appl. Opt. 47(27), 4856–4863 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]:

n2(λ)1=(B1λ2λ2C1+B2λ2λ2C2+B3λ2λ2C3)PP0T0T

For the experiment described above the emitted THz power was relatively low since the filament plasma string was short. To obtain higher THz powers one needs to create longer filaments and this can be done by increasing the input laser energy. In Fig. 2(a)
Fig. 2 (a) Detected THz power as function of nitrogen gas pressure for various laser input energies. (b) Detected THz power as function of nitrogen gas pressure for various BBO tilting angles. For these measurements the BBO crystal is moved from the focusing point, in order to resolve one full oscillation. (c) CCD pictures of plasma fluorescence for a BBO tilt angle of 7 degrees and a non-tilted BBO crystal (pictures were taken with identical scales and camera exposure). (d) On-axis fluorescence intensity profile for a BBO tilt angle of 7 degrees and a non-tilted BBO crystal.
, we present the yielded THz power as a function of the gas pressure for different input laser pulse energies. One can clearly see that as the input laser pulse energy is increased, which automatically leads to a longer filamentary structure, an oscillatory behavior is becoming more prominent. This experimental observation let us presume that the nature of the oscillatory behavior is directly linked with the plasma length and consequently as it was reported in [14

14. Y. Liu, A. Houard, M. Durand, B. Prade, and A. Mysyrowicz, “Maker fringes in the Terahertz radiation produced by a 2-color laser field in air,” Opt. Express 17(14), 11480–11485 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], with the appearance of Maker fringes due to the phase walk-off in the extended plasma filament. In addition, when the THz power exhibits oscillatory behavior we systematically observed that the polarization rotates unpredictably and not in accordance with the estimated relative phase difference variation as in the case of low laser energy power. We interpret this phenomenon as a result of the destructive interferences occurring along the plasma string between the different THz emission points. Another consequence of the plasma length extension is the appearance of ellipticity in the polarization of the emitted THz pulses. Ellipticity has already been observed in [15

15. Y. Chen, C. Marceau, S. Génier, F. Théberge, M. Châteauneuf, J. Dubois, and S. L. Chin, “Elliptically polarized Terahertz emission through four-wave mixing in a two-color filament in air,” Opt. Commun. 282(21), 4283–4287 (2009). [CrossRef]

] and will be discussed at the end of this paper.

Furthermore, in order to fully relate the oscillatory behavior of the THz output with the length of the plasma string, we conducted a pressure study with a non tilted BBO crystal for different rare gases. First, as one can see in Fig. 3
Fig. 3 THz power emitted from a double color filament produced in different gas mediums (He, N2, Ar, Kr, Xe) and at pressures ranging from 10 mbar up to 1 Atm (1013 mbar).
, the number of oscillations, over the same pressure range, increases for gases exhibiting higher atomic dispersion. Experimentally, we observed that the plasma formed within helium gas, which shows no oscillatory behavior, was the shortest of all the filaments formed in the other gases. We also observed that for high input laser pulse energy, it is not possible to avoid this oscillatory behavior with gases having a low ionization potential, such as Krypton (14 eV) and Xenon (12.13 eV) as shown in Fig. 3. Even the BBO tilting approach described above is not enough to circumvent the oscillations for Krypton and Xenon gases. For such gases, the saturation intensities within the filament are much lower than for gases with higher ionization potential (e.g. N2 (15.58 eV) or Ar (15.76 eV), He (24.58 eV)) and the excess of input laser energy leads to an extension of the plasma length as was shown with numerical simulations in [16

16. A. Couairon, H. S. Chakraborty, and M. B. Gaarde, “From single-cycle self-compressed filaments to isolated attosecond pulses in noble gases,” Phys. Rev. A 77(5), 053814 (2008). [CrossRef]

]. Consequently the effect of phase walk-off cannot be avoided for extended plasma length, whereas it does not exist for very short filamentary structures.

The disadvantage linked to extended plasma length for the control of the THz pulse polarization rotation can be useful to generate other polarization states than purely linear. As mentioned above, the increase of the input laser energy leads to the appearance of ellipticity on the polarization of the THz pulses. This has already been reported in the literature [15

15. Y. Chen, C. Marceau, S. Génier, F. Théberge, M. Châteauneuf, J. Dubois, and S. L. Chin, “Elliptically polarized Terahertz emission through four-wave mixing in a two-color filament in air,” Opt. Commun. 282(21), 4283–4287 (2009). [CrossRef]

] and was also attributed to an extension of the filament length due to higher input laser pulse energy. The same group demonstrated that a filament can act as a polarization separator for a co-propagating beam [17

17. Y. Chen, C. Marceau, F. Théberge, M. Châteauneuf, J. Dubois, and S. L. Chin, “Polarization separator created by a filament in air,” Opt. Lett. 33(23), 2731–2733 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Consequently as the plasma is getting elongated for higher laser pulse energies, the local THz radiation generated along the filament will experience a stronger birefringence, which in turn results to an increased THz ellipticity.

Triggered by this experimental evidence, we investigated the effect induced by the pressure variation for a gas producing longer filamentary structures. Hence, a systematic study of the THz generation in Xenon over one bar of pressure range was performed and the THz polarization state at various pressure levels was analyzed. The results are presented in Fig. 4(a)
Fig. 4 (a) Detected THz power as function of xenon gas pressure and THz pulse polarization states at different pressure levels of Xenon gas and (b) the linear polarization (red curve) state of THz pulse at low pressure compared to the circular polarized THz (black curve) as recorded at 880 mbar.
. As expected, the polarization of the THz pulse is rotating as the pressure of the gas medium is changing. The rotation is much more important than in nitrogen over the same range of pressure, which is due to the bigger atomic dispersion of the xenon gas. Beyond the rotation of the THz pulses polarization, we have been able to obtain elliptically polarized THz pulses at different states and up to fully circular polarized THz pulses, as one can also see in Fig. 4(a). We interpret this interesting result as the result of two joint effects occurring on the plasma filament. It is well known in the literature that the filament radius decreases with an increase of the surrounding gas pressure, see for instance [18

18. N. Kortsalioudakis, M. Tatarakis, N. Vakakis, S. D. Moustaizis, M. Franco, B. Prade, A. Mysyrowicz, N. A. Papadogiannis, A. Couairon, and S. Tzortzakis, “Enhanced harmonic conversion efficiency in the self-guided propagation of femtosecond ultraviolet laser pulses in argon,” Appl. Phys. B 80(2), 211–214 (2005). [CrossRef]

]. Also, the length of the filament is known to extend as the gas pressure increases [19

19. G. Méchain, T. Olivier, M. Franco, A. Couairon, B. Prade, and A. Mysyrowicz, “Femtosecond filamentation in air at low pressures. Part II: Laboratory experiments,” Opt. Commun. 261(2), 322–326 (2006). [CrossRef]

].

5. Conclusions

In conclusion, we have demonstrated experimentally the possibility to control the polarization of THz pulses emitted from two color filaments in gases. We also reported a way to circumvent the disadvantage caused by the phase walk-off between the two laser fields within an extended plasma string. Finally, we have shown the possibility to obtain circularly polarized THz pulses using longer plasma filaments. The later is an elegant and easy way for producing circularly polarized THz light, opening new opportunities in THz TDS.

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the EU Marie Curie Excellence Grant “MULTIRAD” MEXT-CT-2006-042683.

References and links

1.

K. Y. Kim, A. J. Taylor, J. H. Glownia, and G. Rodriguez, “Coherent control of terahertz supercontinuum generation in ultrafast laser-gas interactions,” Nat. Photonics 2(10), 605–609 (2008). [CrossRef]

2.

T.-J. Wang, Y. Chen, C. Marceau, F. Theberge, M. Chateauneuf, J. Dubois, and S. L. Chin, “High energy terahertz emission from two-color laser-induced filamentation in air with pump pulse duration control,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 131108 (2009). [PubMed]

3.

P. Gaal, K. Reimann, M. Woerner, T. Elsaesser, R. Hey, and K. H. Ploog, “Nonlinear terahertz response of -type GaAs,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 96(18), 187402 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

4.

H. Wen, M. Wiczer, and A. M. Lindenberg, “Ultrafast electron cascades in semiconductors driven by intense femtosecond terahertz pulses,” Phys. Rev. B 78(12), 125203 (2008). [CrossRef]

5.

J. M. Manceau, A. Averchi, F. Bonaretti, D. Faccio, P. Di Trapani, A. Couairon, and S. Tzortzakis, “Terahertz pulse emission optimization from tailored femtosecond laser pulse filamentation in air,” Opt. Lett. 34(14), 2165–2167 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

6.

H. D. Wen and A. M. Lindenberg, “Coherent terahertz polarization control through manipulation of electron trajectories,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 103(2), 023902 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

7.

J. Dai, N. Karpowicz, and X. C. Zhang, “Coherent polarization control of terahertz waves generated from two-color laser-induced gas plasma,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 103(2), 023001–023004 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

8.

H. Wen, D. Daranciang, and A. M. Lindenberg, “High-speed all-optical terahertz polarization switching by a transient plasma phase modulator,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 96(16), 161103 (2010). [CrossRef]

9.

M. D. Thomson, M. Kreß, T. Loffler, and H. G. Roskos, “Broadband THz emission from gas plasmas induced by femtosecond optical pulses: From fundamentals to applications,” Laser Photon. Rev. 1(4), 349–368 (2007). [CrossRef]

10.

Y. Chen, M. Yamaguchi, M. Wang, and X. C. Zhang, “Terahertz pulse generation from noble gases,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 91(25), 251116 (2007). [CrossRef]

11.

A. V. Balakin, A. V. Borodin, I. A. Kotelnikov, and A. P. Shkurinov, “Terahertz emission from a femtosecond laser focus in a two-color scheme,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 27(1), 16–26 (2010). [CrossRef]

12.

A. Börzsönyi, Z. Heiner, M. P. Kalashnikov, A. P. Kovács, and K. Osvay, “Dispersion measurement of inert gases and gas mixtures at 800 nm,” Appl. Opt. 47(27), 4856–4863 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

13.

A. Dalgarno and A. E. Kingston, “The Refractive Indices and Verdet Constants of the Inert Gases,” Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A Math. Phys. Sci. 259(1298), 424–431 (1960). [CrossRef]

14.

Y. Liu, A. Houard, M. Durand, B. Prade, and A. Mysyrowicz, “Maker fringes in the Terahertz radiation produced by a 2-color laser field in air,” Opt. Express 17(14), 11480–11485 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

15.

Y. Chen, C. Marceau, S. Génier, F. Théberge, M. Châteauneuf, J. Dubois, and S. L. Chin, “Elliptically polarized Terahertz emission through four-wave mixing in a two-color filament in air,” Opt. Commun. 282(21), 4283–4287 (2009). [CrossRef]

16.

A. Couairon, H. S. Chakraborty, and M. B. Gaarde, “From single-cycle self-compressed filaments to isolated attosecond pulses in noble gases,” Phys. Rev. A 77(5), 053814 (2008). [CrossRef]

17.

Y. Chen, C. Marceau, F. Théberge, M. Châteauneuf, J. Dubois, and S. L. Chin, “Polarization separator created by a filament in air,” Opt. Lett. 33(23), 2731–2733 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

18.

N. Kortsalioudakis, M. Tatarakis, N. Vakakis, S. D. Moustaizis, M. Franco, B. Prade, A. Mysyrowicz, N. A. Papadogiannis, A. Couairon, and S. Tzortzakis, “Enhanced harmonic conversion efficiency in the self-guided propagation of femtosecond ultraviolet laser pulses in argon,” Appl. Phys. B 80(2), 211–214 (2005). [CrossRef]

19.

G. Méchain, T. Olivier, M. Franco, A. Couairon, B. Prade, and A. Mysyrowicz, “Femtosecond filamentation in air at low pressures. Part II: Laboratory experiments,” Opt. Commun. 261(2), 322–326 (2006). [CrossRef]

OCIS Codes
(190.7110) Nonlinear optics : Ultrafast nonlinear optics
(350.5400) Other areas of optics : Plasmas
(300.6495) Spectroscopy : Spectroscopy, teraherz

ToC Category:
Nonlinear Optics

History
Original Manuscript: June 25, 2010
Revised Manuscript: July 22, 2010
Manuscript Accepted: July 23, 2010
Published: August 19, 2010

Citation
Jean-Michel Manceau, Maria Massaouti, and Stelios Tzortzakis, "Coherent control of THz pulses polarization from femtosecond laser filaments in gases," Opt. Express 18, 18894-18899 (2010)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-18-18-18894


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References

  1. K. Y. Kim, A. J. Taylor, J. H. Glownia, and G. Rodriguez, “Coherent control of terahertz supercontinuum generation in ultrafast laser-gas interactions,” Nat. Photonics 2(10), 605–609 (2008). [CrossRef]
  2. T.-J. Wang, Y. Chen, C. Marceau, F. Theberge, M. Chateauneuf, J. Dubois, and S. L. Chin, “High energy terahertz emission from two-color laser-induced filamentation in air with pump pulse duration control,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 131108 (2009). [PubMed]
  3. P. Gaal, K. Reimann, M. Woerner, T. Elsaesser, R. Hey, and K. H. Ploog, “Nonlinear terahertz response of -type GaAs,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 96(18), 187402 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. H. Wen, M. Wiczer, and A. M. Lindenberg, “Ultrafast electron cascades in semiconductors driven by intense femtosecond terahertz pulses,” Phys. Rev. B 78(12), 125203 (2008). [CrossRef]
  5. J. M. Manceau, A. Averchi, F. Bonaretti, D. Faccio, P. Di Trapani, A. Couairon, and S. Tzortzakis, “Terahertz pulse emission optimization from tailored femtosecond laser pulse filamentation in air,” Opt. Lett. 34(14), 2165–2167 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. H. D. Wen and A. M. Lindenberg, “Coherent terahertz polarization control through manipulation of electron trajectories,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 103(2), 023902 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. J. Dai, N. Karpowicz, and X. C. Zhang, “Coherent polarization control of terahertz waves generated from two-color laser-induced gas plasma,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 103(2), 023001–023004 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. H. Wen, D. Daranciang, and A. M. Lindenberg, “High-speed all-optical terahertz polarization switching by a transient plasma phase modulator,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 96(16), 161103 (2010). [CrossRef]
  9. M. D. Thomson, M. Kreß, T. Loffler, and H. G. Roskos, “Broadband THz emission from gas plasmas induced by femtosecond optical pulses: From fundamentals to applications,” Laser Photon. Rev. 1(4), 349–368 (2007). [CrossRef]
  10. Y. Chen, M. Yamaguchi, M. Wang, and X. C. Zhang, “Terahertz pulse generation from noble gases,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 91(25), 251116 (2007). [CrossRef]
  11. A. V. Balakin, A. V. Borodin, I. A. Kotelnikov, and A. P. Shkurinov, “Terahertz emission from a femtosecond laser focus in a two-color scheme,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 27(1), 16–26 (2010). [CrossRef]
  12. A. Börzsönyi, Z. Heiner, M. P. Kalashnikov, A. P. Kovács, and K. Osvay, “Dispersion measurement of inert gases and gas mixtures at 800 nm,” Appl. Opt. 47(27), 4856–4863 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. A. Dalgarno and A. E. Kingston, “The Refractive Indices and Verdet Constants of the Inert Gases,” Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A Math. Phys. Sci. 259(1298), 424–431 (1960). [CrossRef]
  14. Y. Liu, A. Houard, M. Durand, B. Prade, and A. Mysyrowicz, “Maker fringes in the Terahertz radiation produced by a 2-color laser field in air,” Opt. Express 17(14), 11480–11485 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  15. Y. Chen, C. Marceau, S. Génier, F. Théberge, M. Châteauneuf, J. Dubois, and S. L. Chin, “Elliptically polarized Terahertz emission through four-wave mixing in a two-color filament in air,” Opt. Commun. 282(21), 4283–4287 (2009). [CrossRef]
  16. A. Couairon, H. S. Chakraborty, and M. B. Gaarde, “From single-cycle self-compressed filaments to isolated attosecond pulses in noble gases,” Phys. Rev. A 77(5), 053814 (2008). [CrossRef]
  17. Y. Chen, C. Marceau, F. Théberge, M. Châteauneuf, J. Dubois, and S. L. Chin, “Polarization separator created by a filament in air,” Opt. Lett. 33(23), 2731–2733 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  18. N. Kortsalioudakis, M. Tatarakis, N. Vakakis, S. D. Moustaizis, M. Franco, B. Prade, A. Mysyrowicz, N. A. Papadogiannis, A. Couairon, and S. Tzortzakis, “Enhanced harmonic conversion efficiency in the self-guided propagation of femtosecond ultraviolet laser pulses in argon,” Appl. Phys. B 80(2), 211–214 (2005). [CrossRef]
  19. G. Méchain, T. Olivier, M. Franco, A. Couairon, B. Prade, and A. Mysyrowicz, “Femtosecond filamentation in air at low pressures. Part II: Laboratory experiments,” Opt. Commun. 261(2), 322–326 (2006). [CrossRef]

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