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Pulse Characterization

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Buyer's Guide

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German: Pulscharakterisierung, Pulsvermessung

Categories: optical metrology, light pulses

How to cite the article; suggest additional literature

Optical pulses and regular optical pulse trains can be characterized in various respects:

There are methods of complete pulse characterization [4], which reveal the electric field versus time or the complex spectrum (including spectral shape and spectral phase) of ultrashort pulses. The most prominent techniques for this purpose are FROG (frequency-resolved optical gating [2]) and SPIDER (spectral interferometry for direct electric-field reconstruction [7], → spectral interferometry). The results can be visualized in various ways, e.g. with graphs of time- or frequency-dependent functions, or with spectrograms.

Note that apart from the temporal aspect, there is also the spatial aspect [14]. Both aspects are often approximately separated in the sense that the whole spatio-temporal profile of the electric field of a pulse can be specified as the product of two functions, one depending only on time and the other only on the spatial position. However, a significant coupling of temporal and spatial properties can occur in various situations. For example, pulses from Kerr lens mode-locked lasers often exhibit a time-dependent beam radius, which makes the complete characterization (and modeling) very challenging. Another spatio-temporal aspect is pulse front tilt, which is related to angular dispersion and can, e.g., result from a misaligned pulse compressor.


[1]C. Yan and J. C. M. Diels, “Amplitude and phase recording of ultrashort pulses”, J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8 (6), 1259 (1991)
[2]D. J. Kane and R. Trebino, “Characterization of arbitrary femtosecond pulses using frequency-resolved optical gating”, IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 29 (2), 571 (1993)
[3]K. C. Chu et al., “Direct measurement of the spectral phase of femtosecond pulses”, Opt. Lett. 20 (8), 904 (1995)
[4]I. A. Walmsley and V. Wong, “Characterization of the electric field of ultrashort optical pulses”, J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 13 (11), 2453 (1996)
[5]I. D. Jung et al., “High-dynamic-range characterization of ultrashort pulses”, Appl. Phys. B 65, 307 (1997)
[6]R. Trebino et al., “Measuring ultrashort laser pulses in the time–frequency domain using frequency-resolved optical gating”, Rev. Sci. Instrum. 68, 3277 (1997)
[7]C. Iaconis and I. A. Walmsley, “Spectral phase interferometry for direct electric-field reconstruction of ultrashort optical pulses”, Opt. Lett. 23 (10), 792 (1998)
[8]L. Gallmann et al., “Characterization of sub-6-fs optical pulses with spectral phase interferometry for direct electric-field reconstruction”, Opt. Lett. 24 (18), 1314 (1999)
[9]L. Gallmann et al., “Techniques for the characterization of sub-10-fs optical pulses: a comparison”, Appl. Phys. B 70, S67 (2000)
[10]L. Gallmann et al., “Spatially resolved amplitude and phase characterization of femtosecond optical pulses”, Opt. Lett. 26 (2), 96 (2001)
[11]J. W. Nicholson and W. Rudolph, “Noise sensitivity and accuracy of femtosecond pulse retrieval by phase and intensity from correlation and spectrum only (PICASO)”, J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 19 (2), 330 (2002)
[12]T. Hirayama and M. Sheik-Bahae, “Real-time chirp diagnostic for ultrashort laser pulses”, Opt. Lett. 27 (10), 860 (2002)
[13]E. M. Kosik et al., “Interferometric technique for measuring broadband ultrashort pulses at the sampling limit”, Opt. Lett. 30 (3), 326 (2005)
[14]S. Akturk et al., “The general theory of first-order spatio-temporal distortions of Gaussian pulses and beams”, Opt. Express 13 (21), 8642 (2005)
[15]A. S. Wyatt et al., “Sub-10 fs pulse characterization using spatially encoded arrangement for spectral phase interferometry for direct electric field reconstruction”, Opt. Lett. 31 (12), 1914 (2006)
[16]C. Dorrer, “High-speed measurements for optical telecommunication systems”, IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 12 (4), 843 (2006)
[17]P. K. Bates et al., “Ultrashort pulse characterization in the mid-infrared”, Opt. Lett. 35 (9), 1377 (2010)
[18]M. Chini et al., “Characterizing ultrabroadband attosecond lasers”, Opt. Express 18 (12), 13006 (2010)

(Suggest additional literature!)

See also: pulses, spectral phase, carrier–envelope offset, autocorrelators, frequency-resolved optical gating, spectral interferometry

In the RP Photonics Buyer's Guide, 27 suppliers for equipment for pulse characterization are listed.

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