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We present a high-peak-power, near-infrared laser system based on optical parametric chirped pulse amplification pumped by a home-built picosecond pumping laser, which can generate over 40 mJ energy at 1450 nm center wavelength and operate at 100 Hz repetition rate. Subsequently, the chirped laser pulses are compressed down to 60 fs with 26.5 mJ energy, corresponding to a peak power of 0.44 TW. This high-energy, long-wavelength laser source is highly suitable for driving various nonlinear optical phenomena, such as high-order harmonic generation and high-flux coherent extreme ultraviolet/soft X-ray radiation.
Implementation of laser-plasma-based acceleration stages in user-oriented facilities requires the definition and deployment of appropriate diagnostic methodologies to monitor and control the acceleration process. An overview is given here of optical diagnostics for density measurement in laser-plasma acceleration stages, with emphasis on well-established and easily implemented approaches. Diagnostics for both neutral gas and free-electron number density are considered, highlighting real-time measurement capabilities. Optical interferometry, in its various configurations, from standard two-arm to more advanced common-path designs, is discussed, along with spectroscopic techniques such as Stark broadening and Raman scattering. A critical analysis of the diagnostics presented is given concerning their implementation in laser-plasma acceleration stages for the production of high-quality GeV electron bunches.
Laser–solid interactions are highly suited as a potential source of high energy X-rays for nondestructive imaging. A bright, energetic X-ray pulse can be driven from a small source, making it ideal for high resolution X-ray radiography. By limiting the lateral dimensions of the target we are able to confine the region over which X-rays are produced, enabling imaging with enhanced resolution and contrast. Using constrained targets we demonstrate experimentally a
X-ray source, improving the image quality compared to unconstrained foil targets. Modelling demonstrates that a larger sheath field envelope around the perimeter of the constrained targets increases the proportion of electron current that recirculates through the target, driving a brighter source of X-rays.
In order to understand the transport of fast electrons within solid density targets driven by an optical high power laser, we have numerically investigated the dynamics and structure of strong self-generated magnetic fields in such experiments. Here we present a systematic study of the bulk magnetic field generation due to the ponderomotive current, Weibel-like instability and resistivity gradient between two solid layers. Using particle-in-cell simulations, we observe the effect of varying the laser and target parameters, including laser intensity, focal size, incident angle, preplasma scale length, target thickness and material and experimental geometry. The simulation results suggest that the strongest magnetic field is generated with laser incident angles and preplasma scale lengths that maximize laser absorption efficiency. The recent commissioning of experimental platforms equipped with both optical high power laser and X-ray free electron laser (XFEL), such as European XFEL-HED, LCLS-MEC and SACLA beamlines, provides unprecedented opportunities to probe the self-generated bulk magnetic field by X-ray polarimetry via Faraday rotation with simultaneous high spatial and temporal resolution. We expect that this systematic numerical investigation will pave the way to design and optimize near future experimental setups to probe the magnetic fields in such experimental platforms.
We report on the concept of an innovative source to produce polarized proton/deuteron beams of a kinetic energy up to several GeV from a laser-driven plasma accelerator. Spin effects have been implemented into the particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation code VLPL (Virtual Laser Plasma Lab) to make theoretical predictions about the behavior of proton spins in laser-induced plasmas. Simulations of spin-polarized targets show that the polarization is conserved during the acceleration process. For the experimental realization, a polarized HCl gas-jet target is under construction using the fundamental wavelength of a Nd:YAG laser system to align the HCl bonds and simultaneously circularly polarized light of the fifth harmonic to photo-dissociate, yielding nuclear polarized H atoms. Subsequently, their degree of polarization is measured with a Lamb-shift polarimeter. The final experiments, aiming at the first observation of a polarized particle beam from laser-generated plasmas, will be carried out at the 10 PW laser system SULF at SIOM, Shanghai.
High-brightness fiber laser sources usually utilize active rare-earth-doped fibers cladding-pumped by multimode laser diodes (LDs), but they operate in limited wavelength ranges. Singlemode-passive-fiber based Raman lasers are able to operate at almost any wavelength being pumped by high-power fiber lasers. One of the interesting possibilities is to directly pump graded-index (GRIN) multimode passive fibers by available high-power multimode LDs at 915–940 nm, thus achieving high-power Raman lasing in the wavelength range of 950–1000 nm, which is problematic for rare-earth-doped fiber lasers. Here we review the latest results on the development of all-fiber high-brightness LD-pumped sources based on GRIN fiber with in-fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs). The mode-selection properties of FBGs inscribed by fs pulses supported by the Raman clean-up effect result in efficient conversion of multimode pump into a high-quality output beam at 9xx nm. GRIN fibers with core diameters 62.5, 85 and
are compared. Further scaling capabilities and potential applications of such sources are discussed.
Filamentary structures can form within the beam of protons accelerated during the interaction of an intense laser pulse with an ultrathin foil target. Such behaviour is shown to be dependent upon the formation time of quasi-static magnetic field structures throughout the target volume and the extent of the rear surface proton expansion over the same period. This is observed via both numerical and experimental investigations. By controlling the intensity profile of the laser drive, via the use of two temporally separated pulses, both the initial rear surface proton expansion and magnetic field formation time can be varied, resulting in modification to the degree of filamentary structure present within the laser-driven proton beam.
A new generation of high power laser facilities will provide laser pulses with extremely high powers of 10 petawatt (PW) and even 100 PW, capable of reaching intensities of
in the laser focus. These ultra-high intensities are nevertheless lower than the Schwinger intensity
at which the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED) predicts that a large part of the energy of the laser photons will be transformed to hard Gamma-ray photons and even to matter, via electron–positron pair production. To enable the investigation of this physics at the intensities achievable with the next generation of high power laser facilities, an approach involving the interaction of two colliding PW laser pulses is being adopted. Theoretical simulations predict strong QED effects with colliding laser pulses of
focused to intensities
In order to improve the damage threshold and enlarge the aperture of a laser beam shaper, photolithographic patterning technology is adopted to design a new type of liquid crystal binary mask. The inherent conductive metal layer of commercial liquid crystal electro-optical spatial light modulators is replaced by azobenzene-based photoalignment layers patterned by noncontact photolithography. Using the azobenzene-based photoalignment layer, a liquid crystal binary mask for beam shaping is fabricated. In addition, the shaping ability, damage threshold, write/erase flexibility and stability of the liquid crystal binary mask are tested. Using a 1 Hz near-IR (1064 nm) laser, the multiple-shot nanosecond damage threshold of the liquid crystal mask is measured to be higher than
. The damage threshold of the azobenzene-based photoalignment layer is higher than
under the same testing conditions.
Optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification (OPCPA) [Dubietis et al., Opt. Commun. 88, 437 (1992)] implemented by multikilojoule Nd:glass pump lasers is a promising approach to produce ultraintense pulses (
). Technologies are being developed to upgrade the OMEGA EP Laser System with the goal to pump an optical parametric amplifier line (EP OPAL) with two of the OMEGA EP beamlines. The resulting ultraintense pulses (1.5 kJ, 20 fs,
) would be used jointly with picosecond and nanosecond pulses produced by the other two beamlines. A midscale OPAL pumped by the Multi-Terawatt (MTW) laser is being constructed to produce 7.5-J, 15-fs pulses and demonstrate scalable technologies suitable for the upgrade. MTW OPAL will share a target area with the MTW laser (50 J, 1 to 100 ps), enabling several joint-shot configurations. We report on the status of the MTW OPAL system, and the technology development required for this class of all-OPCPA laser system for ultraintense pulses.
A high-power, Joule-class, nanosecond temporally shaped multi-pass ring laser amplifier system with two neodymium-doped phosphate glass (Nd:glass) laser heads is demonstrated. The laser amplifier system consists of three parts: an all-fiber structure seeder, a diode-pumped Nd:glass regenerative amplifier and a multi-pass ring amplifier, where the thermally induced depolarization of two laser heads is studied experimentally and theoretically. Following the injection of a square pulse with the pulse energy of 0.9 mJ and pulse width of 6 ns, a 0.969-J high-energy laser pulse at 1 Hz was generated, which had the ability to change the waveform arbitrarily, based on the all-fiber structure front end. The experimental results show that the proposed laser system is promising to be adopted in the preamplifier of high-power laser facilities.
A multichannel calorimeter system is designed and constructed which is capable of delivering single-shot and broad-band spectral measurement of terahertz (THz) radiation generated in intense laser–plasma interactions. The generation mechanism of backward THz radiation (BTR) is studied by using the multichannel calorimeter system in an intense picosecond laser–solid interaction experiment. The dependence of the BTR energy and spectrum on laser energy, target thickness and pre-plasma scale length is obtained. These results indicate that coherent transition radiation is responsible for the low-frequency component (
1 THz) of BTR. It is also observed that a large-scale pre-plasma primarily enhances the high-frequency component (
3 THz) of BTR.
The paper presents a review of dynamic stabilization mechanisms for plasma instabilities. One of the dynamic stabilization mechanisms for plasma instability was proposed in the paper [Kawata, Phys. Plasmas 19, 024503 (2012)], based on a perturbation phase control. In general, instabilities emerge from the perturbations. Normally the perturbation phase is unknown, and so the instability growth rate is discussed. However, if the perturbation phase is known, the instability growth can be controlled by a superimposition of perturbations imposed actively. Based on this mechanism we present the application results of the dynamic stabilization mechanism to the Rayleigh–Taylor instability (RTI) and to the filamentation instability as typical examples in this paper. On the other hand, in the paper [Boris, Comments Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion 3, 1 (1977)] another mechanism was proposed to stabilize RTI, and was realized by the pulse train or the laser intensity modulation in laser inertial fusion [Betti et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 71, 3131 (1993)]. In this latter mechanism, an oscillating strong force is applied to modify the basic equation, and consequently the new stabilization window is created. Originally the latter was proposed by Kapitza. We review the two stabilization mechanisms, and present the application results of the former dynamic stabilization mechanism.
We report on the energetic and beam quality performance of the second to the last main amplifier section HEPA I of the PEnELOPE laser project. A polarization coupled double-12-pass scheme to verify the full amplification capacity of the last two amplifiers HEPA I and II was used. The small signal gain for a narrow-band continuous wave laser was 900 and 527 for a broadband nanosecond pulse, demonstrating 12.6 J of output pulse energy. Those pulses, being spectrally wide enough to support equivalent 150 fs long ultrashort pulses, are shown with an excellent spatial beam quality. A first active correction of the wavefront using a deformable mirror resulted in a Strehl ratio of 76% in the single-12-pass configuration for HEPA I.
The spatial-intensity profile of light reflected during the interaction of an intense laser pulse with a microstructured target is investigated experimentally and the potential to apply this as a diagnostic of the interaction physics is explored numerically. Diffraction and speckle patterns are measured in the specularly reflected light in the cases of targets with regular groove and needle-like structures, respectively, highlighting the potential to use this as a diagnostic of the evolving plasma surface. It is shown, via ray-tracing and numerical modelling, that for a laser focal spot diameter smaller than the periodicity of the target structure, the reflected light patterns can potentially be used to diagnose the degree of plasma expansion, and by extension the local plasma temperature, at the focus of the intense laser light. The reflected patterns could also be used to diagnose the size of the laser focal spot during a high-intensity interaction when using a regular structure with known spacing.
In this paper we review the design and development of a 100 J, 10 Hz nanosecond pulsed laser, codenamed DiPOLE100X, being built at the Central Laser Facility (CLF). This 1 kW average power diode-pumped solid-state laser (DPSSL) is based on a master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) design, which includes two cryogenic gas cooled amplifier stages based on DiPOLE multi-slab ceramic Yb:YAG amplifier technology developed at the CLF. The laser will produce pulses between 2 and 15 ns in duration with precise, arbitrarily selectable shapes, at pulse repetition rates up to 10 Hz, allowing real-time shape optimization for compression experiments. Once completed, the laser will be delivered to the European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL) facility in Germany as a UK-funded contribution in kind, where it will be used to study extreme states of matter at the High Energy Density (HED) instrument.
Development of high energy laser sources with nanosecond pulses at several hertz values for repetition rate has been very attractive in recent years due to their great potential for practical applications. With the recent advancement in fabricating large size laser quality transparent ceramics, diode pumped solid-state laser generating pulse energy of 100 J at 10 Hz has been recently realized at HiLASE center using Yb:YAG ceramic with Cr:YAG cladding. This review discusses Yb based high energy lasers, specific laser geometries for efficient thermal management and the role of transparent ceramics in such diode pumped high-energy-class solid-state lasers around the world.
Pulse contrast is a crucial parameter of high peak-power lasers since the prepulse noise may disturb laser–plasma interactions. Contrast measurement is thus a prerequisite to tackle the contrast challenge in high peak-power lasers. This paper presents the progress review of single-shot cross-correlator (SSCC) for real-time contrast characterization. We begin with the key technologies that enable an SSCC to simultaneously possess high dynamic range (
), large temporal window (50–70 ps) and high fidelity. We also summarize the instrumentation of SSCC prototypes and their applications on five sets of petawatt laser facilities in China. Finally, we discuss how to extend contrast measurements from time domain to spatiotemporal domain. Real-time and high-dynamic-range contrast measurements, provided by SSCC, can not only characterize various complex noises in high peak-power lasers but also guide the system optimization.
We present the design and experiment of a broadband optical parametric chirped-pulse amplifier (OPCPA) which provides high conversion efficiency and good beam quality at 808 nm wavelength. Using a three-dimensional spatial and temporal numerical model, several design considerations necessary to achieve high conversion efficiency, good beam quality and good output stability are discussed. To improve the conversion efficiency and broaden the amplified signal bandwidth simultaneously, the nonlinear crystal length and OPCPA parameters are analyzed and optimized with the concept of dissipating amplified idler between optical parametric amplification (OPA) of two crystals configuration. In the experiment, an amplifier consisting of two OPCPA stages of ‘L’ type configuration was demonstrated by using the optimized parameters. An amplified signal energy of 160 mJ was achieved with a total pump-to-signal efficiency of 35% (43% efficiency for the OPCPA stage 2). The output bandwidth of signal pulse reached 80 nm and the signal pulse was compressed to 24 fs. The energy stability reached 1.67% RMS at 3% pump energy variation. The optimized OPCPA amplifier operates at a repetition rate of 1 Hz and is used as a front-end injection for the main amplifier of SG-II 5PW laser facility.
Direct numerical simulation of intense laser–solid interactions is still of great challenges, because of the many coupled atomic and plasma processes, such as ionization dynamics, collision among charged particles and collective electromagnetic fields, to name just a few. Here, we develop a new particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation code, which enables us to calculate laser–solid interactions in a more realistic way. This code is able to cover almost ‘all’ the coupled physical processes. As an application of the new code, the generation and transport of energetic electrons in front of and within the solid target when irradiated by intense laser beams are studied. For the considered case, in which laser intensity is
and pre-plasma scale length in front of the solid is
, several quantitative conclusions are drawn: (i) the collisional damping (although it is very weak) can significantly affect the energetic electrons generation in front of the target, (ii) the Bremsstrahlung radiation will be enhanced by 2–3 times when the solid is dramatically heated and ionized, (iii) the ‘cut-off’ electron energy is lowered by an amount of 25% when both collision damping and Bremsstrahlung radiations are included, and (iv) the resistive electromagnetic fields due to Ohmic heating play nonignorable roles and must be taken into account in such interactions.