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Broadband terahertz generation by optical rectification of ultrashort multiterawatt laser pulses near the beam breakup threshold

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Abstract

We identify the physical factors that limit the terahertz (THz) yield of an optical rectification (OR) of ultrashort multiterawatt laser pulses in large-area quadratically nonlinear crystals. We show that the THz yield tends to slow its growth as a function of the laser driver energy, saturate, and eventually decrease as the laser beam picks up a spatiotemporal phase due to the intensity-dependent refraction of the OR crystal. We demonstrate that, with a careful management of the driver intensity aimed at keeping the nonlinear length larger than the coherence length, OR-based broadband THz generation in large-area lithium niobate (LN) crystals is energy-scalable, enabling an OR of multiterawatt laser pulses, yielding ${\sim 10}$ $\unicode{x00B5} {\rm{J}}/{\rm{cm}}^2$ of THz output energy per unit crystal area. With a 27-fs, 10-TW, 800-nm Ti:sapphire laser output used as a driver for OR in large-area LN crystals, this approach is shown to provide a THz output with a pulse energy above 10 µJ and a bandwidth extending well beyond 6 THz, supporting single-cycle THz waveforms.

© 2021 Optical Society of America

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Data underlying the results presented in this paper may be obtained from the authors upon reasonable request.

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