Pulse front adaptive optics: a new method for control of ultrashort laser pulses.
Sun B., Salter PS., Booth MJ.
Ultrafast lasers enable a wide range of physics research and the manipulation of short pulses is a critical part of the ultrafast tool kit. Current methods of laser pulse shaping are usually considered separately in either the spatial or the temporal domain, but laser pulses are complex entities existing in four dimensions, so full freedom of manipulation requires advanced forms of spatiotemporal control. We demonstrate through a combination of adaptable diffractive and reflective optical elements - a liquid crystal spatial light modulator (SLM) and a deformable mirror (DM) - decoupled spatial control over the pulse front (temporal group delay) and phase front of an ultra-short pulse was enabled. Pulse front modulation was confirmed through autocorrelation measurements. This new adaptive optics technique, for the first time enabling in principle arbitrary shaping of the pulse front, promises to offer a further level of control for ultrafast lasers.