Extreme intensity light sources are capable of providing a large number of opportunities for natural science in the laboratory, and have been developed rapidly over the last three decades[ Reference Mourou and Tajima 1 , Reference Danson, Haefner, Bromage, Butcher, Chanteloup, Chowdhury, Galvanauskas, Gizzi, Hein, Hillier, Hopps, Kato, Khazanov, Kodama, Korn, Li, Li, Limpert, Ma, Nam, Neely, Papadopoulos, Penman, Qian, Rocca, Shaykin, Siders, Spindloe, Szatmári, Trines, Zhu, Zhu and Zuegel 2 ]. Currently, power up to 10 petawatt (PW)[ Reference Li, Gan, Yu, Wang, Liu, Guo, Xu, Xu, Hang, Xu, Wang, Huang, Cao, Yao, Zhang, Chen, Tang, Li, Liu, Li, He, Yin, Liang, Leng, Li and Xu 3 , Reference Lureau, Matras, Chalus, Derycke, Morbieu, Radier, Casagrande, Laux, Ricaud, Rey, Pellegrina, Richard, Boudjemaa, Simon-Boisson, Baleanu, Banici, Gradinariu, Caldararu, De Boisdeffre, Ghenuche, Naziru, Kolliopoulos, Neagu, Dabu, Dancus and Ursescu 4 ] as well as the focused intensity of 1023 W/cm2 has been reported[ Reference Yoon, Kim, Choi, Sung, Lee, Lee and Nam 5 ]. Optical parametric chirped pulse amplification (OPCPA) has been widely adopted in laser facilities, including those installed and proposed[ Reference Danson, Haefner, Bromage, Butcher, Chanteloup, Chowdhury, Galvanauskas, Gizzi, Hein, Hillier, Hopps, Kato, Khazanov, Kodama, Korn, Li, Li, Limpert, Ma, Nam, Neely, Papadopoulos, Penman, Qian, Rocca, Shaykin, Siders, Spindloe, Szatmári, Trines, Zhu, Zhu and Zuegel 2 – Reference Cai, Lin, Li, Lu, Hu and Zheng 17 ]. The capacity of optical parametric amplifiers as the front-end of those laser facilities, such as gain bandwidth, conversion efficiency, acceptance angle, and walk-off effect, mainly depends on the nonlinear characteristics of the crystals. On the other hand, for master amplifiers, which are featured in high-energy amplification, crystals of large clear aperture and high damage threshold are demanded. As of now, few nonlinear crystals have been used or proposed in high-power laser facilities. Lithium triborate (LiB3O5, LBO), with an aperture of approximately 100 mm and a high damage threshold, has supported the OPCPA of multi-PW laser systems centered at 800 nm[ Reference Zhu, Xie, Sun, Kang, Yang, Guo, Zhu, Zhu, Gao, Liang, Cui, Yang, Zhang and Lin 9 , Reference Zeng, Zhou, Zuo, Zhu, Su, Wang, Wang, Huang, Jiang, Jiang, Guo, Xie, Zhou, Wu, Mu, Peng and Jing 10 ]. Deuterated potassium dihydrogen phosphate (KD2PO4, DKDP ) has been proposed in systems exceeding 10 PW, such as SEL, EXCELS and OPAL, due to two advantages: a large aperture of 400 mm[ Reference Cai, Lin, Li, Lu, Hu and Zheng 17 ] and gain bandwidth over 190 nm at the central wavelength of 910 nm[ Reference Skrobol, Ahmad, Klingebiel, Wandt, Trushin, Major, Krausz and Karsch 18 – Reference Bromage, Bahk, Bedzyk, Begishev, Bucht, Dorrer, Feng, Jeon, Mileham, Roides, Shaughnessy, Shoup, Spilatro, Webb, Weiner and Zuegel 20 ].
In recent decades, there have been vigorous researches on pure yttrium calcium oxyborate (YCOB) and rare-earth-doped YCOB crystals for utilization in parametric processes for three main reasons. Firstly, numerical analysis predicted good phase matching properties with YCOB crystals[ Reference Sun, Ji, Bi, Wang, Kang, Xie and Lin 21 , Reference Pires, Galimberti and Figueira 22 ]. Experiments with small aperture YCOB crystals have been reported for the validation of parametric performances. Galletti et al. [ Reference Galletti, Pires, Hariton, Alves, Oliveira, Galimberti and Figueira 6 ] reported an optical parametric amplifier with gain bandwidth of more than 200 nm with YCOB crystals of several millimeters in length. Our previous work experimentally demonstrated in a moderate optical aperture of approximately $\Phi$ 8 mm that YCOB was capable of exhibiting comparable OPCPA performance with beta barium borate (BBO) at 808 nm, and a pump-to-signal conversion efficiency of 40% was achieved with a total gain of approximately 109[ Reference Yang, Liang, Xie, Yang, Tu, Zheng, Zhang, Zhang, Guo, Zhu, Kang, Sun and Zhu 23 ]. A novel conception named quasi-parametric amplification (QPA) was proposed and experimentally demonstrated based on Sm3+-doped YCOB crystal (Sm:YCOB) in 2015 by Ma et al.[ Reference Ma, Wang, Yuan, Xie, Xiong, Tu, Tu, Shi, Zheng and Qian 24 ]. The highest pump-to-signal conversion efficiency of 56% was realized recently by QPA with a Sm:YCOB crystal of 80 mm in length[ Reference Ma, Xiong, Yuan, Tu, Wang, Xie, Zheng and Qian 25 ]. The works above confirm that YCOB crystal has a great prospect for ultra-intense ultra-short laser pulse generation. Secondly, YCOB can be grown to a large size of approximately 130 mm in diameter, leading to an available aperture of 100 mm × 100 mm to support high-energy amplification[ Reference Tu, Wang, Xiong, Zheng and Shi 26 , Reference Tu, Wang, Xiong, Zheng and Shi 27 ]. The first joule-level OPCPA with YCOB of 63 mm × 68 mm at 800 nm was demonstrated in 2012, and an amplified pulse of 3.36 J was produced[ Reference Yu, Liang, Li, Wu, Zheng, Lu, Wang, Leng, Xu, Li and Xu 28 ]. Thirdly, owing to the remarkable thermal properties, such as large temperature acceptance, high thermal conductivity and low coefficient of thermal expansion, YCOB has potential for high average repetition rate laser systems[ Reference Liao, Jovanovic, Ebbers, Fei and Chai 29 ]. At present, crystals adopted in optical parametric amplifiers for PW-scale delivery capacity are restrained to LBO and DKDP[ Reference Zhu, Xie, Sun, Kang, Yang, Guo, Zhu, Zhu, Gao, Liang, Cui, Yang, Zhang and Lin 9 , Reference Zeng, Zhou, Zuo, Zhu, Su, Wang, Wang, Huang, Jiang, Jiang, Guo, Xie, Zhou, Wu, Mu, Peng and Jing 10 , Reference Bromage, Bahk, Begishev, Dorrer, Guardalben, Hoffman, Oliver, Roides, Schiesser, Shoup, Webb, Weiner and Zuegel 11 , Reference Lozhkarev, Freidman, Ginzburg, Katin, Khazanov, Kirsanov, Luchinin, Mal'shakov, Martyanov, Palashov, Poteomkin, Sergeev, Shaykin and Yakovlev 16 , Reference Chekhlov, Collier, Ross, Bates, Notley, Hernandez-Gomez, Shaikh, Danson, Neely, Matousek, Hancock and Cardoso 30 ]. In this paper, we presented a YCOB-based parametric amplifier based on the SG-II 5 PW laser facility and, for the first time, realized compressed pulses exceeding 1 PW peak power with YCOB crystal.
2 Experimental details
2.1 Experimental setup and incidence laser
The schematic of the experiment, based on the SG-II 5 PW laser facility, is presented in Figure 1. The incidence signal pulses are originally generated by a commercial Ti:sapphire mode-locked oscillator. A small portion of the pulse chain is used as a trigger for the electronic synchronization system, which ensures synchronization accuracy of 14 ps root mean square (RMS) for OPCPA-I and 100 ps RMS for OPCPA-II. The majority of the seed pulses are stretched by an Öffner stretcher, delivered into a pre-compressor and amplified by the preamplifier. A chromatic aberration pre-compensator (CAPC) was installed for pre-compensation of the chromatic aberration deriving from the large aperture transmission spherical elements in the spatial filters (SFs), SF3, SF4 and SF5. It was aligned before SF3 and the capability of high enhancement on the focusing characteristics at the target was verified[ Reference Cui, Kang, Gu, Zhu, Yang, Zhu, Sun, Gao, Liu, Ouyang, Zhang, Wei, Liang, Zhang, Yang, Zhang, Xie and Zhu 31 ]. The seventh beam of the SG-II facility was used as the pump for the PW-scale amplifier, where the YCOB crystal was located. The high-energy chirped pulse after amplification was delivered into the adaptive optics (AO), by which the wavefront was measured by a Hartmann sensor and corrected by a deformable mirror. Finally, the chirped pulse was injected into the master compressor, after which the compressed pulse was measured with the entire diameter by a home-made autocorrelator.
Compared with the entire system illustrated in Ref. [Reference Zhu, Xie, Sun, Kang, Yang, Guo, Zhu, Zhu, Gao, Liang, Cui, Yang, Zhang and Lin9], several changes were made for a better performance. The pre-compressor, which was aligned in a Treacy configuration for high-order dispersion control, was moved after the Öffner stretcher, because energy loss deriving from the degradation of the transmission efficiency of the gratings was intolerable when located after OPCPA-I. The grating pairs in the pre-compressor also provided negative linear component dispersion (group velocity dispersion, GVD), and the chirped ratio of seed pulses injected into OPCPA-I at present was deduced to be 21.3 ps/nm, while the energy per pulse was reduced to approximately 0.1 nJ. The pump for OPCPA-I was provided by the Nd:YAG laser, which delivered pulses of 450 mJ in 2.2 ns duration at 532 nm with 1 Hz repetition rate, and four BBO crystals were aligned as before[ Reference Liang, Xie, Kang, Yang, Wei, Sun and Zhu 32 ]. In our previous work, the pump energy allocation for the prior and the lateral two BBO amplifiers was set (52 and 398 mJ) for optimizing the temporal contrast in pure nanosecond amplifiers[ Reference Sun, Xie, Zhu, Zhang, Zhang, Zhu, Guo, Kang, Zhu, Yang and Liang 33 ]. However, in the current condition the injected chirped signal pulse energy was half that of before, so the pump energy allocation was reset (90 and 360 mJ) to ensure a delivery capacity of 150 mJ. The lower energy seed and high-energy pump would degrade the contrast. The waveform and spectrum of the signal pulse after OPCPA-I are represented by the blue lines in Figures 2 and 3, respectively. With a smaller chirped ratio, a broader spectrum bandwidth was temporally overlapped by the pump pulse, and the amplified signal pulse was in the spectrum ranging from 770 to 860 nm and with temporal duration of approximately 1.8 ns. The SFs for image relay were used as before[ Reference Zhu, Xie, Sun, Kang, Yang, Guo, Zhu, Zhu, Gao, Liang, Cui, Yang, Zhang and Lin 9 ]. However, owing to the reflection on 25 element surfaces and bulk losses in the polarized beam splitter (PBS) in the CAPC[ Reference Cui, Kang, Gu, Zhu, Yang, Zhu, Sun, Gao, Liu, Ouyang, Zhang, Wei, Liang, Zhang, Yang, Zhang, Xie and Zhu 31 ], the total transmission efficiency was limited to approximately 17% and a chirped pulse of approximately 25 mJ was injected into OPCPA-II. The signal after the CAPC was image relayed and beam expanded to $\Phi$ 90 mm by SF3 to ensure that the pump and signal can be well spatially overlapped.
A thicker crystal as well as higher pump peak power was required to realize a delivery capacity of tens of joules. The duration of the pulse from the seventh beam of the SG-II facility was 2.1 ns and the energy was around 125 J at 1053 nm. The beam aperture was measured as approximately 60 mm square. A large aperture potassium dihydrogen phosphate (KDP) crystal was installed for second harmonic generation and the optimal conversion efficiency was about 80%. Those specifications above ensured a pump pulse of energy of approximately 100 J and intensity of approximately 1.3 GW/cm2 for OPCPA-II. The waveform of the pump, measured by a phototube and oscilloscope (Tektronix TDS694C), is presented by the green line in Figure 2.
A non-collinear geometry based on YCOB crystal was adopted in OPCPA-II. The crystal was phase-matched at (θ = 26.37°, φ = 180°) in the type-I phase matching configuration with an internal non-collinear angle of 2.74°. The non-collinear configuration was set in the XOZ principal plane with an effective nonlinear coefficient d eff of approximately 0.95 pm/V because a much larger gain bandwidth can be theoretically achieved than that achieved out of principal planes with d eff of approximately 1.4 pm/V[ Reference Pires, Galimberti and Figueira 22 , Reference Ma, Xiong, Yuan, Tu, Wang, Xie, Zheng and Qian 25 ]. Numerical simulation based on coupling wave equations was carried out with the parameters of both incident laser pulses and phase-matching conditions[ Reference Zhu, Xie, Sun, Kang, Yang, Guo, Zhu, Zhu, Gao, Liang, Cui, Yang, Zhang and Lin 9 ]. It indicated an optimal crystal length of 27 mm to realize a high gain as well as stability. The normalized gain curve, presented by the green line in Figure 3, indicated a spectrum ranging from 750 to 880 nm, which was much larger than that of the incident signal.
A YCOB crystal boule, with a size of approximately $\Phi$ 108 mm × 100 mm, was grown by the Bridgeman method, as reported elsewhere[ Reference Tu, Wang, Xiong, Zheng and Shi 27 ]. Based on the phase-matching parameters above, the crystal was oriented and cut into an element at a size of $\Phi$ 100 mm × 27 mm. A wedge angle of 1° was processed to prevent parasitic oscillation. The two clear surfaces were polished without coating. The reflection and transmission properties were measured by a ZYGO interferometer. As shown in Figure 4, the peak to volley (PV) of the reflection wavefront was 0.15λ in a circular region of $\Phi$ 85 mm, and the PV of the transmission wavefront was smaller than 0.3λ, which indicated a good material uniformity.
2.2 OPCPA performance of YCOB crystal
Numerical simulation, in which the spatial profiles of the signal and pump were assumed to be ideal super-Gaussians, for the signal pulse energy versus pump pulse energy, is represented by the red solid line in Figure 5(a). The maximal amplified signal energy would be up to 46 J in theory, corresponding to pump pulse energy of 100 J. In the experiment, the signal pulse energy was smaller than that in the simulation, shown by the red circles in Figure 5(a). The energy of the signal pulse increased rapidly with pump pulse energy, and the highest energy was 40.3 J when the pump pulse energy was 96 J, which indicated a conversion efficiency of 41.98%. The net gain of YCOB-based OPCPA-II was up to 1600. The pump-to-signal conversion efficiency is also provided by the blue solid line in theory and blue circles in the experiment in Figure 5(b). Maximum conversion efficiency of 42.3% was achieved corresponding to pump energy of 92.3%, and the conversion efficiency remained higher than 40% when the pump pulse energy exceeded 88 J.
It was concluded in Ref. [Reference Yang, Liang, Xie, Yang, Tu, Zheng, Zhang, Zhang, Guo, Zhu, Kang, Sun and Zhu23] that both the amplified spectrum and output energy were very sensitive to the non-collinear angle. In this experiment, we measured the amplified signal energy and obtained the conversion efficiency by precisely tuning the phase-matching angles with a fixed non-collinear angle. As illustrated in Figure 6, the acceptance angle, referring to the full width at half maximum (FWHM) of the conversion efficiency in practice, could be calculated to be approximately 0.08°, which was larger than the 0.02° achieved in the numerical analysis. For comparison, an acceptance angle of a 19 mm LBO crystal was measured as 0.2° for the same sort of gain levels[ Reference Zhu, Xie, Sun, Kang, Yang, Guo, Zhu, Zhu, Gao, Liang, Cui, Yang, Zhang and Lin 9 ].
The waveform of the amplified signal is represented by red line in Figure 2 and the pulse width was broadened to 1.94 ns, compared with the 1.8 ns of incidence. The pulses for spectrum measurement in our experiment were sampled and attenuated by reflection with optical polished substrate glasses. They were measured by focusing the full-aperture laser beam into a spectrometer (Ocean Optics HR4000+), shown by the red line in Figure 3. A spectrum ranging from 770 to 860 nm was fully amplified in the YCOB-based OPCPA-II with an FWHM spectral bandwidth of 87 nm, which is the largest among PW-scale amplifiers ever reported, to the best of our knowledge[ Reference Li, Gan, Yu, Wang, Liu, Guo, Xu, Xu, Hang, Xu, Wang, Huang, Cao, Yao, Zhang, Chen, Tang, Li, Liu, Li, He, Yin, Liang, Leng, Li and Xu 3 , Reference Lureau, Matras, Chalus, Derycke, Morbieu, Radier, Casagrande, Laux, Ricaud, Rey, Pellegrina, Richard, Boudjemaa, Simon-Boisson, Baleanu, Banici, Gradinariu, Caldararu, De Boisdeffre, Ghenuche, Naziru, Kolliopoulos, Neagu, Dabu, Dancus and Ursescu 4 , Reference Kiriyama, Pirozhkov, Nishiuchi, Fukuda, Ogura, Sagisaka, Miyasaka, Mori, Saksaki, Dover, Kondo, Koga, Esirkepov, Kando and Kondo 7 , Reference Zeng, Zhou, Zuo, Zhu, Su, Wang, Wang, Huang, Jiang, Jiang, Guo, Xie, Zhou, Wu, Mu, Peng and Jing 10 , Reference Sung, Lee, Yoo, Yoon, Lee, Yang, Son, Jang, Lee and Nam 12 , Reference Papadopoulos, Ramirez, Genevrier, Ranc, Lebas, Pellegrina, Le Blanc, Monot, Martin, Zou, Mathieu, Audebert, Georges and Druon 13 , Reference Lozhkarev, Freidman, Ginzburg, Katin, Khazanov, Kirsanov, Luchinin, Mal'shakov, Martyanov, Palashov, Poteomkin, Sergeev, Shaykin and Yakovlev 16 ].
The spatial profile of the amplified signal pulse was measured with an online diagnosis system, sharing the same light path with AO assemblies. It is presented in Figure 7(a); the full aperture was equal to that of the pump beam. For comparison, an experiment using 19-mm-thick LBO crystal was accomplished. To ensure the output energy and conversion efficiency with LBO being the same scale as YCOB, the pump pulse duration was reset to 1.6 ns so that the peak intensity was approximately 2 GW/cm2, which was still well below the damage threshold of LBO. However, the output bandwidth with LBO was only 75 nm. Figure 7(b) provides the spatial profile of the amplified signal pulse after the LBO-based OPCPA-II for comparison. We used the fill factor (FF) and fluence beam contrast (FBC) to quantitatively describe the near-field distribution characteristics[ Reference Zhu, Xie, Sun, Kang, Yang, Guo, Zhu, Zhu, Gao, Liang, Cui, Yang, Zhang and Lin 9 ]. A numerical analysis showed that the [FF, FBC] were [0.56, 0.12] for YCOB and [0.45, 0.2] for LBO, respectively. The YCOB-based OPCPA was capable of attaining a good near-field distribution, which was comparable to that achieved based on LBO.
To investigate the influence of material uniformity of YCOB crystal presented by the transmission property in Figure 4(b) on the parametric process, the wavefront was measured by the AO system[ Reference Zhu, Xie, Sun, Kang, Yang, Guo, Zhu, Zhu, Gao, Liang, Cui, Yang, Zhang and Lin 9 ]. Wavefront aberration as the static quantity was firstly measured when only OPCPA-I was operated at a 1 Hz repetition rate. After that, it was corrected by the deformable mirror. The shape of the deformable mirror was kept and a new wavefront was measured by the Hartmann sensor when both OPCPA-I and OPCPA-II were operated. The dynamic wavefront aberration derived from the YCOB-based OPCPA–II is shown in Figure 8(a), and the PV and RMS were 2.452λ and 0.388λ, respectively. For comparison, the dynamic wavefront aberration from the LBO-based OPCPA–II is also presented under the same measurement condition, and the PV, RMS values of 2.098λ, 0.351λ were of the same scale as that of YCOB. This indicates a comparable focusing property between YCOB and LBO.
With our home-made second-order autocorrelator[ Reference Yang, Cui, Kang, Guo, Zhu, Sun, Zhu, Gao, Xie and Zhu 34 ], the compressed pulse traces after the master compressor were measured and are shown in Figure 9. The sampled pulse for measurement was of the whole beam size of 290 mm × 290 mm. The Gaussian profile fitting showed that the FWHM pulse duration was 22.3 fs. The total transmission efficiency of the master compressor and off-axis parabolic mirror (OAP) was measured to be 65.6%, on average. The pulse energy after compression exceeds 26 J and the peak power can be estimated as 1.17 PW.
In summary, we reported a high-energy optical parametric amplifier based on YCOB crystal with a diameter of 100 mm. The amplifier was installed at the OPCPA-II stage by replacing the original LBO crystal in the SG-II 5 PW facility platform, and it achieved a good performance. Chirped pulse energy of around 40 J was realized, with a large gain of approximately 1600 and an optimal pump-to-signal conversion efficiency of 42.3%. A spectrum ranging from 770 to 860 nm was almost fully amplified with an FWHM bandwidth of 87 nm. The parametric performance of YCOB was very sensitive to the phase-matching angle and its acceptance angle was about 0.08° in practice. The near-field distribution as well as the wavefront of the amplified signal pulse was measured before compression with the AO system and represented comparable characteristics with those achieved with LBO crystal. A compressed duration of 22.3 fs was measured with the entire beam diameter, indicating a peak power of PW scale. It was the first YCOB-based optical parametric amplifier exceeding 1 PW, to the best of our knowledge. Considering the prominent thermal properties, YCOB crystal has great application prospects for PW laser facilities of high repetition rate in the future.
This work was partially supported by the Shanghai Natural Science Foundation (No. 20ZR1464400); the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (Nos. 12074399, 12204500 and 12004403); the Key Projects of Intergovernmental International Scientific and Technological Innovation Cooperation (No. 2021YFE0116700); the Shanghai Sailing Program (No. 22YF1455300); the International Partnership Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. 181231KYSB20170022); the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Nos. CXJJ-21S015, XDA25020311 and XDA25020105); NSAF (No. U1930126).