Theory of relativistic optical harmonic generation

Q. Han Park, Robert W. Boyd, J. E. Sipe, Alexander L. Gaeta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


We present a theoretical model of optical harmonic generation excited by laser beams sufficiently intense that relativistic effects are important. This model shows that, under relativistic conditions, third-harmonic generation can be excited with comparable efficiency by either linear or circularly polarized light. This result is to be contrasted with experience from traditional (nonrelativistic) nonlinear optics, where group-theoretical arguments show that third-harmonic emission cannot occur under circularly polarized excitation. These results are in good agreement with the observed polarization dependence of the third-harmonic emission reported recently in an experiment conducted under conditions such that relativistic effects are important. Our theoretical model also predicts that all even and odd harmonics of the fundamental laser frequency are emitted in the near-forward direction with an intensity that increases with that of the incident laser field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-417
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002 May


  • Optical harmonic generation
  • Relativistic effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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