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400 TW operation of Orion at ultra-high contrast

Abstract

The Orion facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in the United Kingdom has the capability to operate one of its two 500 J, 500 fs short-pulse petawatt beams at the second harmonic, the principal reason being to increase the temporal contrast of the pulse on target. This is achieved post-compression, using 3 mm thick type-1 potassium dihydrogen phosphate crystals. Since the beam diameter of the compressed pulse is ${\sim}600$  mm, it is impractical to achieve this over the full aperture due to the unavailability of the large aperture crystals. Frequency doubling was originally achieved on Orion using a circular sub-aperture of 300 mm diameter. The reduction in aperture limited the output energy to 100 J. The second-harmonic capability has been upgraded by taking two square 300 mm $\times$ 300 mm sub-apertures from the beam and combining them at focus using a single paraboloidal mirror, thus creating a 200 J, 500 fs, i.e., 400 TW facility at the second harmonic.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to: S. Parker, AWE plc, Aldermaston, Reading RG7 4PR, UK. Email: Stefan.parker@awe.co.uk

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