Photon deceleration in plasma wakes generates single-cycle relativistic tunable infrared pulses

Zan Nie, Chih Hao Pai, Jie Zhang, Xiaonan Ning, Jianfei Hua, Yunxiao He, Yipeng Wu, Qianqian Su, Shuang Liu, Yue Ma, Zhi Cheng, Wei Lu, Hsu Hsin Chu, Jyhpyng Wang, Chaojie Zhang, Warren B. Mori, Chan Joshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Availability of relativistically intense, single-cycle, tunable infrared sources will open up new areas of relativistic nonlinear optics of plasmas, impulse IR spectroscopy and pump-probe experiments in the molecular fingerprint region. However, generation of such pulses is still a challenge by current methods. Recently, it has been proposed that time dependent refractive index associated with laser-produced nonlinear wakes in a suitably designed plasma density structure rapidly frequency down-converts photons. The longest wavelength photons slip backwards relative to the evolving laser pulse to form a single-cycle pulse within the nearly evacuated wake cavity. This process is called photon deceleration. Here, we demonstrate this scheme for generating high-power (~100 GW), near single-cycle, wavelength tunable (3–20 µm), infrared pulses using an 810 nm drive laser by tuning the density profile of the plasma. We also demonstrate that these pulses can be used to in-situ probe the transient and nonlinear wakes themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2787
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


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