In optics, an ultrashort pulse, also known as an ultrafast event, is an electromagnetic pulse whose time duration is of the order of a picosecond or less. Such pulses have a broadband optical spectrum, and can be created by mode-locked oscillators. Amplification of ultrashort pulses almost always requires the technique of chirped pulse amplification, in order to avoid damage to the gain medium of the amplifier. They are characterized by a high peak intensity that usually leads to nonlinear interactions in various materials, including air. These processes are studied in the field of nonlinear optics. In the specialized literature, "ultrashort" refers to the femtosecond and picosecond range, although such pulses no longer hold the record for the shortest pulses artificially generated. Indeed, x-ray pulses with durations on the attosecond time scale have been reported.

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