School of Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.
We theoretically investigate filamentation of ultrashort laser pulses in air in the mid-infrared regime under conditions in which the group-velocity dispersion (GVD) is anomalous. When a high-power, ultra-short mid-infrared laser beam centered at 3.1-μm forms a filament, a spatial solitary wave is stabilized by the plasma formation and propagates several times its diffraction length. Compared with temporal self-compression in gases due to plasma formation and pulse splitting in the normal-GVD regime, the minimum achievable pulse duration (∼70 fs) is limited by the bandwidth of the anomalous-GVD region in air. For the relatively high powers, multiple pulse splitting due to the plasma effect and shock formation is observed, which is similar to that which occurs in solids. Our simulations show that the energy reservoir also plays a critical role for longer propagation of the air filament in the anomalous-GVD regime.