Seeded optically driven avalanche ionization in molecular and noble gases

Pavel Polynkin, Bernard Pasenhow, Nicholas Driscoll, Maik Scheller, Ewan M. Wright, Jerome V. Moloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We report experimental and numerical results on the dual laser-pulse plasma excitation in molecular and noble gases at atmospheric pressure. Dilute plasma channels generated through filamentation of ultraintense femtosecond laser pulses in air, argon, and helium are densified through the application of multijoule nanosecond heater pulses. Plasma densification in molecular gases is always accompanied by the fragmentation of the plasma channels into discrete bubbles, while in atomic gases, under certain conditions, the densified channels remain smooth and continuous. The densification effect in atomic gases persists through considerably longer delays between the femtosecond and nanosecond pulses compared to that in molecular gases. Using rate equations we trace this difference in the temporal dynamics of densification to the different cooling mechanisms operative in atomic and molecular cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number043410
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 5 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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