Infrared femtosecond light filaments in air: Simulations and experiments

Arnaud Couairon, Stelios Tzortzakis, Luc Bergé, Michel Franco, Bernard Prade, André Mysyrowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

129 Citations (Scopus)


Experiments in which several-meter-long infrared ultrashort laser pulses are guided in air are compared with numerical simulations. During a first self-focusing stage that is affected by modulational instability, the beam is shown to break up into two channels of light that finally coalesce into a narrow filament that is able to propagate over several Rayleigh lengths. The filament propagation is associated with the generation of an electron plasma, whose density is greater than 1016 cm-3, Electron generation persists well beyond the focal region. The simulations restore the global dynamics of the pulse, including the main stages of Ken focusing, light guiding driven by ionization, and the ultimate diffraction of the beam.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1131
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

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