Coherent combining of few-cycle pulses for the next generation of Terawatt-class laser sources devoted to attosecond physics

Abstract : The framework of this thesis is the design and development of a TW-class, high-repetition rate, CEP-stabilized, few-cycle laser system devoted to attosecond physics. Few-cycle pulses includes only a few oscillations of the carrier wave (duration about 5 fs for 800nm central wavelength) and are not directly available at the output of typical femtosecond sources. One of the most popular techniques used for producing such pulses with high spatial quality is nonlinear spectral broadening in a gas-filled hollow-core fiber followed by temporal compression with chirped mirrors. However, as the input pulse energy approaches the milliJoule level, both the transmission and stability of hollow fiber compressors rapidly drop with the onset of self-focusing and ionization. A way of overcoming this limitation is to divide the input pulse into several lower energy replicas that can be subsequently recombined after independent spectral broadening in the fiber. In this thesis, the passive coherent combining of millijoule energy laser pulses down to few-cycle duration in a gas-filled hollow fiber is demonstrated for the first time. High combining efficiency is achieved by using carefully oriented calcite plates for temporal pulse division and recombination. Carrier-envelope phase (CEP)- stable, 6-fs, 800-nm pulses with more than 0.6 mJ energy were routinely generated in the case of twofold division and recombination. A detailed theoretical and experimental analysis of this temporal multiplexing technique is proposed to explain the conditions required for producing few-cycle pulses with high fidelity. In particular, an interferometric method for measuring the relative spectral phase between two replicas is demonstrated. This gives a measure of the phase mismatch in the combining plate, as well as that induced by eventual cross-phase modulation or ionization during propagation in the fiber. The effects degrading the combining process, as polarization change or nonlinear interactions between pulse replicas are analyzed in details. A method is proposed to overcome these limitations, even in the critical case of fourfold pulse division and combination.
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Hermance Jacqmin. Coherent combining of few-cycle pulses for the next generation of Terawatt-class laser sources devoted to attosecond physics. Optics [physics.optics]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016SACLX064⟩. ⟨tel-01526678⟩

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