Pulse compression by parametric beating with a prepared Raman coherence
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We present a general analysis for the interaction of a probe-laser radiation with a coherently prepared molecular Raman medium. We describe a general formalism that includes dispersive effects, such as group velocity and group-velocity dispersion (GVD). When dispersion is negligible, the analysis is especially simple and insightful. We show that molecular oscillations result in a modulated instantaneous susceptibility of the medium. The effect of the time-varying susceptibility on a probe-laser pulse is twofold: the output frequency becomes modulated because of the time-varying phase velocity, and the pulse shape becomes deformed because of the time-varying group velocity. We identify two mechanisms for pulse compression: (1) Frequency chirping with subsequent pulse compression by normal linear GVD (possibly in the same medium) and (2) Compression due to the time-varying group velocity. We analyze various aspects of pulse compression in the coherent Raman medium and derive conservation relations for this process. When we consider a probe-laser pulse that is much shorter than the molecular oscillation period, we observe frequency chirping, compression, or stretching of this pulse, depending on its relative timing with respect to the molecular oscillations. Based on our analysis, we propose a method for selective compression or frequency conversion of single ultrashort pulses.