Scientific article
Open access

Gas-solid phase transition in laser multiple filamentation

Published inPhysical review letters, vol. 118, no. 133902
Publication date2017

While propagating in transparent media, near-infrared multi-terawatt (TW) laser beams break up in a multitude of filaments of typically 100-200 um diameter with peak intensities as high as 10 to 100~TW/cm$^{2}$. We observe a phase transition at incident beam intensities of 0.4~TW/cm$^2$, where the interaction between filaments induce solid-like 2-dimensional crystals with a 2.7 mm lattice constant, independent of the initial beam diameter. Below 0.4~TW/cm$^2$, we evidence a mixed phase state in which some filaments are closely packed in localized clusters, nucleated on inhomogeneities (seeds) in the transverse intensity profile of the beam, and other are sparse with almost no interaction with their neighbors, similar to a gas. This analogy with a thermodynamic gas-solid phase transition is confirmed by calculating the interaction Hamiltonian between neighboring filaments, which takes into account the effect of diffraction, Kerr self-focusing and plasma generation. The shape of the effective potential is close to a Morse potential with an equilibrium bond length close to the observed value.

  • arxiv : physics.optics
Citation (ISO format)
MONGIN, Denis et al. Gas-solid phase transition in laser multiple filamentation. In: Physical review letters, 2017, vol. 118, n° 133902. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.133902
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Article (Accepted version)
ISSN of the journal0031-9007

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