Guiding of intense laser beams in highly ionized plasma columns generated by a fast capillary discharge

Rocca, J. J., author
Larotonda, M. A., author
Chilla, J. L. A., author
Marconi, Mario Carlo, author
Wang, Y., author
Luther, B. M., author
American Physical Society, publisher
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We have demonstrated the guiding of laser pulses with peak intensities up to 2.2 × 1017 W/cm2 in a 5.5 cm long plasma column containing highly charged Ar ions generated by a fast capillary discharge. A rapid discharge-driven hydrodynamic compression guides progressively lower order modes through a plasma with increasing density and degree of ionization, until the guide collapses on axis. The lowest order mode (FWHM ~50 μm) is guided with 75% transmission efficiency shortly before the plasma reaches the conditions for lasing in Ne-like Ar. The subsequent rapid plasma expansion forms a significantly leakier and more absorbent guide.
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