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Ultrashort-pulse Phenomena

  1. Peter E. Powers1,
  2. David E. Spence2,
  3. Chung L. Tang3

Published Online: 15 OCT 2004

DOI: 10.1002/3527600434.eap546.pub2

Encyclopedia of Applied Physics

Encyclopedia of Applied Physics

How to Cite

Powers, P. E., Spence, D. E. and Tang, C. L. 2004. Ultrashort-pulse Phenomena. Encyclopedia of Applied Physics. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Dayton, Department of Physics and Electro-optics, Dayton, Ohio, USA

  2. 2

    Spectra-Physics, Mountain View, CA, USA

  3. 3

    Cornell University, School of Electrical Engineering, Ithaca, New York, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 OCT 2004


Ultrashort-pulse phenomena are generally processes that occur on the subpicosecond to femtosecond time scale. The availability of lasers that generate ultrashort optical pulses has made possible the study of effects and processes that occur on ultrashort time scales. These measurements have led to a more fundamental understanding of processes in fields ranging from chemical kinetics to semiconductor physics. The high peak powers attainable with ultrashort-pulse lasers has also led to new applications such as soft X-ray generation and multiphoton microscopy. In this article, we review the generation, characterization, and a few of the applications of ultrashort optical pulses. We briefly introduce these topics with the goal of presenting an overview of the fundamental ideas. An extensive list of references is provided for each topic to give a starting point for further research.


  • ultrashort-pulse phenomena;
  • ultrafast lasers;
  • femtosecond pulses;
  • ultrashort-pulse characterization;
  • active and passive mode locking;
  • frequency conversion;
  • pump-and-probe measurements