Journal article

How short are ultra short light pulses? (looking back to the mid sixties)

With the arrival of mode locking for Q-switched lasers to generate ultra short light pulses, a method to measure their expected time duration in the psec range was needed. A novel method, based on an intensity correlation measurement using optical second harmonic generation, was developed. Other reported approaches for the same purpose were critically analysed. Theoretical and subsequent experimental studies lead to surprising new insight into the ultra fast temporal behaviour of broadband laser radiation: any non mode locked multimode emission of a laser consists of random intensity fluctuations with duration of the total inverse band width of emitted radiation. However, it was shown, that with mode locking isolated ultra short pulses of psec duration can be generated. This article summarizes activities performed in the mid sixties at the University of Berne, Switzerland. [DOI: 10.2971/jeos.2010.10050s]


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