Abstract

We demonstrate the generation of axially modulated plasma waveguides using spatially patterned high-energy laser pulses. A spatial light modulator (SLM) imposes transverse phase front modulations on a low-energy (10 mJ) laser pulse which is interferometrically combined with a high-energy (130–450 mJ) pulse, sculpting its intensity profile. This enables dynamic and programmable shaping of the laser profile limited only by the resolution of the SLM and the intensity ratio of the two pulses. The plasma density profile formed by focusing the patterned pulse with an axicon lens is likewise dynamic and programmable. Centimeter-scale, axially modulated plasmas of varying shape and periodicity are demonstrated.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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