There is a critical need for powerful laser-based tools that operate over kilometers of free space. Advances in laser technology have yielded lasers with sufficient energy to induce a number of physical effects in targets. However, there are many challenges in projecting damage-inducing laser intensities to large distances in outdoor environments. Laser intensities sufficient to ablate materials and produce plasma can be projected to multiple kilometers from the source with the filamentation of ultrashort pulses, a nonlinear phenomenon that eliminates the need for large focusing optics. During filamentation, Kerr-self focusing generates high intensities along the propagation axis which create plasma and the subsequent defocusing of laser light. These nonlinear processes that facilitate long-range high-intensity laser propagation, clamp the peak pulse intensity to 1013-1014 W/cm2 in the case of an ultrashort pulse centered at 800 nm in air, limiting the effects induced by filament interactions. This thesis dissertation investigates several techniques to improve filament interactions with targets for long-range applications. Several interaction modalities, including ablation, plasma creation, and the formation of shockwaves, can be enhanced by supplementing the clamped filament intensity with additional laser radiation. The secondary irradiation is investigated in the form of a lower-intensity nanosecond pulse or burst of femtosecond filaments. The complex ablation and plasma physics involved in these multi-pulse interactions are explored through multiple experiments conducted with the Multi-Terawatt Femtosecond Laser at the University of Central Florida. Investigations of filament propagation and interaction science at the kilometer range are conducted at the Townes Institute Science and Technology Experimentation Facility, a secure outdoor propagation range. This research has generated valuable knowledge on the formation, properties, and applications of filaments over distances up to 1 km, which is critical for long-range applications.


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Graduation Date





Richardson, Martin


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program

Optics and Photonics


CFE0009303; DP0026907





Release Date

June 2027

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until June 2027; it will then be open access.