Measuring the spatiotemporal electric field of ultrashort pulses with high spatial and spectral resolution
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In this thesis a powerful and practical method for characterizing ultrashort pulses in space and time is described (called SEA TADPOLE). First we focus on measuring pulses that are spatially uniform but very complicated in time or frequency. We demonstrate and verify that SEA TADPOLE can measure temporal features as small as 30 femtoseconds over durations as long as 14 picoseconds. The spectral resolution of this device is carefully studied and we demonstrate that for certain pulses, we achieve spectral super resolution. We also develop and test an algorithm for measuring polarization shaped pulses with SEA TADPOLE. Our simple interferometer can even be used to measure the spatiotemporal electric field of ultrashort pulses at a focus. This is because SEA TADPOLE samples the field with an optical fiber which has a small core size. Therefore this fiber can be used to spatially sample the beam, so that the temporal electric field can be measured at every position to obtain E(x, y, z, t). The single mode fiber can be replaced with an NSOM (Near Field Scanning Optical Microscopy) fiber so that spatial resolution as low as 500nm (and possibly lower) can be achieved. Using this device we make the first direct measurements of the compete field of focusing ultrashort pulses. These measurement can be viewed as "snap shots" in flight of the focusing pulse. Also, for the first time, we have observed some of the interesting distortions that have been predicted for focusing ultrashort pulses such as the "forerunner" pulse, radially varying group delay dispersion, and the Bessel-like X-shaped pulse. We have also made the first direct measurements of the electric field of Bessel X-pulses and their propagation invariance is demonstrated. We also use SEA TADPOLE to study the "boundary wave pulses" which are due to diffraction.