Long Distance Propagation in Air Due to Dynamic Spatial Replenishment

M. Mlejnek, E.M. Wright, and J.V. Moloney, Arizona Center for Mathematical Sciences, and Optical Sciences Center, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.

Recently, there has been considerable excitement regarding experimental demonstrations of propagation of femtosecond pulses over 102-104 m in air due to its potential applications, e.g., lightning channeling and LIDAR. To determine the utility of this phenomenon for these and other applications the underlying physics needs clarifying. The critical power for self-focusing in air is Pcr =1.7 GW. Catastrophic collapse is avoided by a combination of multi-photon ionization (MPI), and absorption and defocusing by the electron-plasma generated by MPI. Our question is: How do these mechanisms conspire to produce long distance propagation?

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