Self-Similar Optical Wave Collapse: Observation of the Townes Profile

K. D. Moll, Alexander L. Gaeta, Gadi Fibich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Analyses of many different types of nonlinear wave equations indicate that a collapsing wave will transform into a universal blowup profile regardless of its initial shape; that is, the amplitude of the wave increases as the spatial extent decreases in a self-similar fashion. We show experimentally that the spatial profile of a collapsing optical wave evolves to a specific circularly symmetric shape, known as the Townes profile, for elliptically shaped or randomly distorted input beams. These results represent the first experimental confirmation of this universal collapsing behavior and provide deeper insight into the high-power filamentation of femtosecond laser pulses in air.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4
Number of pages1
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number20
StatePublished - 2003


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