Multiphoton ionization of standard optical fibers

Atoms ionization by the simultaneous absorption of multiple photons has found applications in fiber optics, where it leads to unique nonlinear phenomena. To date, studies of the ionization regime have been limited to gas-filled hollow-core fibers. Here, we investigate multiphoton ionization of standard optical fibers, where intense laser pulses ionize the atoms constituting the fiber structure itself, instead of that of the filling gas. We characterize material modifications produced by optical breakdown. Their formation affects laser beam dynamics over hours long temporal scales. The damage features are studied by means of optical microscopy and X-ray microtomography. In the framework of glass photonics, our results pave the way for a novel glass waveguide micromachining technique