Review

White-Light Filaments for Atmospheric Analysis

Science  04 Jul 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5629, pp. 61-64
DOI: 10.1126/science.1085020

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Abstract

Most long-path remote spectroscopic studies of the atmosphere rely on ambient light or narrow-band lasers. High-power femtosecond laser pulses have been found to propagate in the atmosphere as dynamically self-guided filaments that emit in a continuum from the ultraviolet to the infrared. This white light exhibits a directional behavior with enhanced backward scattering and was detected from an altitude of more than 20 kilometers. This light source opens the way to white-light and nonlinear light detection and ranging applications for atmospheric trace-gas remote sensing or remote identification of aerosols. Air ionization inside the filaments also opens promising perspectives for laser-induced condensation and lightning control. The mobile femtosecond-terawatt laser system, Teramobile, has been constructed to study these applications.

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