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. Bandwidth-limited pulses have a constant phase across all frequencies making up the pulse. Optical pulses of this type can be generated by mode-locked lasers.
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. For different pulse shapes, the time-bandwidth product (TBP) is different. For example, pulses have TBP of 0.315 and gaussian pulses have TBP of 0.441.
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. For example, when an ultrashort pulse passes through a block of glass, the glass medium broadens the pulse due to group velocity dispersion.
- J. C. Diels and W. Rudolph (2006). Ultrashort Laser Pulse phenomena. New York, Academic. ISBN 978-0-12-215493-5.