An analytical and numerical investigation is presented of the behavior of a linearly polarized electromagnetic pulse as it propagates through a plasma. Considering a weakly relativistic regime, the system of one-dimensional fluid-Maxwell equations is reduced to a generalized nonlinear Schrodinger type equation, which is solved numerically using a split step Fourier method. The spatio-temporal evolution of an electromagnetic pulse is investigated. The evolution of the envelope amplitude of density harmonics is also studied. An electromagnetic pulse propagating through the plasma tends to broaden due to dispersion, while the nonlinear frequency shift is observed to slow down the pulse at a speed lower than the group velocity. Such nonlinear effects are more important for higher density plasmas. The pulse broadening factor is calculated numerically, and is shown to be related to the background plasma density. In particular, the broadening effect appears to be stronger for dense plasmas. The relation to existing results on electromagnetic pulses in laser plasmas is discussed. (c) 2008 American Institute of Physics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics