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Absorption-limited and phase-matched high harmonic generation in the tight focusing regime

: Rothhardt, Jan; Krebs, Manuel; Hädrich, Steffen; Demmler, Stefan; Limpert, Jens; Tünnermann, Andreas

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New journal of physics. Online journal 16 (2014), March, Art. 033022, 16 pp.
ISSN: 1367-2630
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IOF ()
high harmonic generation; phase matching; absorption limit; tight focusing; high repetition rate

High harmonic generation (HHG) at a high repetition rate requires tight focusing of the moderate peak power driving pulses. So far the conversion efficiencies that have been achieved in this regime are orders of magnitude behind the values that have been demonstrated with loose focusing of high energy (high peak power) lasers. In this contribution, we discuss the scaling laws for the main physical quantities of HHG and in particular analyze the limiting effects: dephasing, absorption and plasma defocusing. It turns out that phase-matched and absorption-limited HHG can be achieved even for very small focal spot sizes using a target gas provided with an adequately high density. Experimentally, we investigate HHG in a gas jet of argon, krypton and xenon. By analyzing the pressure dependence we are able to disentangle the dephasing and absorption effects and prove that the generated high order harmonics are phase-matched and absorption-limited. The obtained conversion efficiency is as high as 8 × 10-6 for the 17th harmonic generated in xenon and 1.4 × 10-6 for the 27th harmonic generated in argon. Our findings pave the way for highly efficient harmonic generation at megahertz repetition rates.