We present a sensitive single beam technique for measuring nonlinear refraction in a variety of materials that offers simplicity, sensitivity and speed. The transmittance of a sample is measured through a finite aperture in the far-field as the sample is moved along the propagation path (z) of a focused Gaussian beam. The sign and magnitude of the nonlinearity is easily deduced from such a transmittance curve (Z-scan). Employing this technique a sensitivity of better than λ/300 wavefront distortion is achieved in n2 measurements of BaF2 using picosecond visible laser pulses.
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