Bandwidth-limited pulse

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A bandwidth-limited pulse (also known as Fourier-transform-limited pulse, or more commonly, transform-limited pulse) is a pulse of a wave that has the minimum possible duration for a given spectral bandwidth. Optical pulses of this type can be generated by mode-locked lasers. Bandwidth-limited pulses have a constant phase across all frequencies making up the pulse.

Any waveform can be disassembled into its spectral components by Fourier analysis or Fourier transformation. The length of a pulse thereby is determined by its complex spectral components, which include not just their relative intensities, but also the relative positions (spectral phase) of these spectral components.

A bandwidth-limited pulse can only be kept together if the dispersion of the medium the wave is travelling through is zero; otherwise dispersion management is needed to revert the effects of unwanted spectral phase changes.

Keeping pulses bandwidth-limited is necessary to compress information in time or to achieve high field densities, as with ultrashort pulses in modelocked lasers.