“Plasma photonics,” whereby plasmas are used in lieu of solidstate (crystal-based) systems to manipulate the basic properties of light, makes it possible to control and manipulate lasers at fluences many orders of magnitude beyond what solids can sustain. While this research area could be transformative for high-power lasers and all the applications linked to them, its progress is currently challenged by typically poor “energy budgets” in the early experiments. For example, for plasma pulse compression/short pulse amplification, it has been difficult to convert a large fraction of the long pulse “pump” into the short pulse “seed” at relevant intensities. One of the main reasons for the low efficiency of these schemes is the difficulty to control these plasma structures as they are driven into the nonlinear regime.
In this research, we explore a new way to drive high amplitude, standing optical plasma structures created by two overlapped pump beams while minimizing the intensity of these pumps. The way to achieve this is by autoresonant excitation of standing ion acoustic waves (SIAWs). Autoresonance is a technique which consists of driving a nonlinear system using a chirped driver slowly sweeping through the linear resonance. Under certain conditions, the nonlinear system can become phase-locked with the driver and will adjust itself to stay in resonance (for a review, see Ref.)