Self-channeling of high-power laser pulses through strong atmospheric turbulence
AbstractWe present an unusual example of truly long-range propagation of high-power laser pulses through strong atmospheric turbulence. A form of nonlinear self-channeling is achieved when the laser power is close to the self-focusing power of air and the transverse dimensions of the pulse are smaller than the coherence diameter of turbulence. In this mode, nonlinear self-focusing counteracts diffraction, and turbulence-induced spreading is greatly reduced. Furthermore, the laser intensity is below the ionization threshold so that multiphoton absorption and plasma defocusing are avoided. Simulations show that the pulse can propagate many Rayleigh lengths (several kilometers) while maintaining a high intensity. In the presence of aerosols, or other extinction mechanisms that deplete laser energy, the pulse can be chirped to maintain the channeling.