Femtosecond filament induced birefringence in argon and in air: Ultrafast refractive index change

Claude Marceau*, S. Ramakrishna, Simon Génier, Tie Jun Wang, Yanping Chen, Francis Théberge, Marc Châteauneuf, Jacques Dubois, Tamar Seideman, See Leang Chin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The birefringence of a linearly polarized femtosecond laser filament in gases has been previously established. In this work, we report the time-dependent refractive index measurements of the filament based upon the spectral modulation of a weak probe pulse in air and in argon gas at 1 atmospheric pressure. The polarization dependence of the refractive index modulation induced by the delayed molecular alignment and by the electronic Kerr effect is highlighted. A numerical simulation of the refractive indices, which takes into account the molecular alignment, the electronic Kerr non-linearity and the plasma, is in good agreement with the measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2732-2736
Number of pages5
JournalOptics Communications
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010


  • Filamentation
  • Kerr effect
  • Molecular alignment
  • Non-linear optics
  • Revival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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