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Sonographic probing of laser filaments in air

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Abstract

The acoustic wave emitted from the plasma channel associated with a filament induced by a femtosecond laser pulse in air was detected with a microphone. This sonographic detection provides a new method to determine the length and the spatial profile of the free-electron density of a filament. The acoustic wave is emitted owing to the expansion of the gas in the filament, which is heated through collisions with high-energy photoelectrons generated by multiphoton ionization. Compared with other methods, the acoustic detection is simpler, more sensitive, and with higher spatial resolution, making it suitable for field measurements over kilometer-range distances or laboratory-scale studies on the fine structure of a filament.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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