Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 February 2002
Self-focusing is one of the key issues in laser plasma physics applications. Problems involving a multidimensional beam within an inhomogeneous plasma are diffficult to handle. This paper presents the investigation of two-dimensional self-focusing of a laser beam in a plasma whose density n(r, z) is a function of radial as well as z coordinates. The nonlinear mechanism responsible for modification of the background density and the dielectric function is of ponderomotive type. A variational technique is used here for deriving the equations for the beam width and the longitudinal phase. It is observed numerically that an initially diffracting beam is accompanied by oscillatory self-focusing of the beam with distance of propagation. The effect of inhomogeneity scale lengths is also observed. The increase in Lr (= L∥/L⊥) results in oscillatory self-focusing and defocusing with distance of propagation. Furthermore, critical fields for self-trapping of a laser beam as a function of refraction, diffraction lengths and scale lengths of inhomogeneities are also evaluated. Lastly, whatever parameters are chosen, the phase is always negative.