Quantum Fluctuations as the Origin of Laser Beam Filamentation

  • E. M. Nagasako
  • R. W. Boyd
  • G. S. Agarwal
Conference paper


According to traditional theories, the filamentation1 of a laser beam as it passes through a nonlinear material is a consequence of the spatial growth2,3 of weak wavefront perturbations initially present on the beam. To a certain extent these perturbations can be removed by passing the beam through a spatial filter before it enters the medium. However, quantum fluctuations in the field amplitudes of the transverse side modes impose perturbations that cannot be removed by spatial filtering. These quantum fluctuations can lead to the filamentation of a beam with an otherwise perfect wavefront. We study the growth of these fluctuations and predict the nonlinear phase shift at which this process will become significant. We find that quantum-initiated filamentation imposes a fundamental limit to the intensities that can be propagated through a nonlinear material without beam breakup.


Nonlinear Material Quantum Fluctuation Side Mode Spatial Growth2 Nonlinear Phase Shift 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    V.I. Bespalov and V.I. Talanov, Filamentary structure of light beams in nonlinear liquids, JETP Lett. 3: 471 (1966)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    R.Y. Chiao, P.L. Kelley, and E. Garmire, Stimulated four-photon interaction and its influence on stimulated Rayleigh-wing scattering, Phys. Rev. Lett. 17: 1158 (1966)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    E.S. Bliss, D.R. Speck, J.F. Holzrichter, J.H. Erkkila, and A.J. Glass, Propagation of a high-intensity laser pulse with small-scale intensity modulation, Appl. Phys. Lett. 25: 448 (1974)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. M. Nagasako
    • 1
  • R. W. Boyd
    • 1
  • G. S. Agarwal
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of OpticsUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  2. 2.School of PhysicsUniversity of HyderabadHyderabadIndia

Personalised recommendations