There are several mechanisms by which the frequency spectrum of a laser broadens when it propagates at near-relativistic intensity in a tenuous plasma. Focusing on one-dimensional effects, we identify two strong optical nonlinearities, namely, four-wave mixing (FWM) and forward Raman scattering (FRS), for creating octave-wide spectra. FWM dominates the interaction when the laser pulse is short and intense, and its combination with phase modulation produces a symmetrically broadened supercontinuum. FRS dominates when the laser pulse is long and relatively weak, and it broadens the laser spectrum mainly toward lower frequencies and produces a frequency comb. The frequency chirping combined with group velocity dispersion compresses the laser pulse, causing higher peak intensity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering