A nonlinear optical phenomenon, relativistic cross-phase modulation, is reported. A relativistically intense light beam (I=1.3×1018 W cm-2, λ =1.05 μm) is experimentally observed to cause phase modulation of a lower intensity, copropagating light beam in a plasma. The latter beam is generated when the former undergoes the stimulated Raman forward scattering instability. The bandwidth of the Raman satellite is found to be broadened from 3.8–100 nm when the pump laser power is increased from 0.45–2.4 TW. A signature of relativistic cross-phase modulation, namely, asymmetric spectral broadening of the Raman signal, is observed at a pump power of 2.4 TW. The experimental cross-phase modulated spectra compared well with theoretical calculations. Applications to generation of high-power single-cycle pulses are also discussed.
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