The filamentation of focused beams at wavelength of 800 and 248 nm in air is studied experimentally and numerically. The results indicate that relatively tight focusing can lead to the coalescence of individual regions of high fluence and high plasma density that result from multiple refocusing, whereas in the case of weak focusing such regions are separated in the pulse propagation direction. The lower multiphoton ionization order in the case of UV radiation leads to a stronger effect of geometric focusing on filament formation. We show the possibility to control the parameters of femtosecond laser plasma filaments by introducing astigmatism in laser beam wavefront. Strong astigmatism can lead to the splitting of the channel into two separate regions. We demonstrate that the self-phase modulation in the thin passthrough dielectric plate decreases the distance to the filament start in air and increases the length of plasma channel.
Electric breakdown and non-self-sustained electric discharge were triggered and guided by a train of ultrashort sub-TW ultraviolet (UV) pulses overlapped with a long free-running UV pulse of a hybrid Ti:Sapphire-KrF laser facility. Photocurrent sustained by this train is two orders of magnitude higher, and electric breakdown distance is twice longer than those for the discharge triggered by the long UV pulse only. UV filaments of ~100 m length were observed when transporting the laser radiation over the long distance.