The recent observation of a transmitted THz pulse oscillating at three times the frequency of the incident light paves the way to a powerful protocol to access resonant excitations in a superconductor. Here we show that this nonlinear optical process is dominated by light-induced excitation of Cooper pairs, while the collective amplitude (Higgs) fluctuations of the superconducting order parameter give in general a negligible contribution. We also predict a nontrivial dependence of the signal on the direction of the light polarization with respect to the lattice symmetry, which can be tested in systems such as, e.g., cuprate superconductors.
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