Abstract

We introduce a technique to measure fluence distributions in femtosecond laser beams with peak intensity of up to several hundred terawatts per square centimeter. Our approach is based on the dependence of single-shot laser ablation threshold for gold on the angle of incidence of the laser beam on the gold sample. We apply this technique to the profiling of fluence distributions in femtosecond laser filaments at a wavelength of 800 nm in air. The peak intensity is found to be clamped at a level that depends on the external beam focusing. The limiting value of the peak intensity attainable in long-range 800 nm air filaments, under very loose focusing conditions (f-number above 500), is about 55  TW/cm2.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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