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New technique measures ultrashort laser pulses at focus
Date:5/9/2008

n, a graduate student supported by the Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results (TI:GER) program.

To achieve the highest possible intensity of the laser, the pulse must be as small as possible in space and as short as possible in time. However, focused pulses nearly always have distortions in time that vary significantly from point to point in space due to lens aberrations in focusing optics.

To address those issues, the new device, called SEA TADPOLE (Spatial Encoded Arrangement for Temporal Analysis by Dispersing a Pair of Light E-fields), allows researchers to measure complicated ultrashort pulses simultaneously in space and time as they go through the focus.

A lot of chemists and biologists use ultrafast lasers, so it was important that our device be easy to use because non-laser scientists dont want to spend all day measuring their laser pulses, noted Bowlan.

The research team which also included former graduate students Pablo Gabolde and Selcuk Akturk used the concept of interferometry to measure a pulse in space and time. Two pulses, one reference and one unknown, were sent through optical fibers. The fibers were mounted on a scanning stage so that the pulses could be measured at many locations around the focus.

The pulses were crossed and an interference pattern was recorded for each color of the pulse at each location with a digital camera. The patterns were used to determine the shape of the unknown pulse in space and time and to create movies showing how the intensity and color of the pulse changed in space and time as it focused.

Because the laser pulses enter SEA TADPOLE through optical fibers, which only collect a very small portion of the light, the device naturally measures pulses with high spatial resolution and can measure them at a focus spot size smaller than a micron, explained Bowlan. To further improve the spatial resolution of the device, the research team began to use s
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Contact: Abby Vogel
avogel@gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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