ELI-ALPS in Hungary, one of the three pillars of the Extreme Light Infrastructure, aims at providing diverse light sources, including energetic attosecond pulses at the highest possible repetition rates. One of the main laser systems for driving plasma and gas-based HHG stages, is a state-of-the-art 1 kHz few-cycle laser called SYLOS. Targeted pulse parameters are an energy of 100 mJ and a duration shorter than two optical cycles (<6 fs), with outstanding energy, phase and pointing stability as well as high spatiotemporal quality.
The first phase of the laser system has already set a new standard in kHz laser system engineering and technology. The performance and reliability of the SYLOS laser have been consistently tested over the course of a six-month trial period. During this time the system was running at least 8 hours a day at full power for more than 5 months. The current output parameters are 5 TW peak power, 45 mJ pulse energy with 9 fs duration and 300 mrad CEP stability, while the spectrum spans over 300 nm around 840 nm central wavelength. The layout follows the general scheme NOPCPA architecture with a passively CEP-stabilized front-end. The pulses are negatively chirped for the amplification process and compressed by a combination of large aperture bulk glass blocks and positively chirped mirrors under vacuum conditions at the output.
During the trial period, the laser system demonstrated outstanding reliability. Daily startup and shutdown procedures take only a few minutes, and the command-control system enables pulse parameters to be modified instantly. Controlling the delays of individual NOPCPA stages makes it possible to tailor the output spectrum of the pulses and tune the central wavelength between 770 nm and 940 nm. We performed several experimental tests to find out the pulse characteristics. Pulse duration was verified with Wizzler, chirp-scan, autocorrelation methods and a stereo-ATI independently. All of them confirmed the sub-9 fs pulse duration. We recorded the long-term waveform and pointing stabilities of the beam in order to find out the effect of the temperature load on optical elements. Excluding a short initial warm up time, stable signals were observed in general. The in-loop and out-of-loop CEP stability was cross-checked between f-to-2f and stereo-ATI devices. Moreover, the inherent CEP stability of the system without feedback loop was also found to be surprisingly robust thanks to the passive CEP stabilization of the front-end. The polarization contrast was better than 1000:1. The temporal contrast was also measured independently with Sequoia and Tundra cross-correlators, and on the ns scale with a fast photodiode and GHz oscilloscope as well. Results showed that the pulse pedestal generally consists of parametric superfluorescence below the 1E-7 level and about 100 ps long, well in accordance with the pump duration. Delaying the pump pulse allows us to shift the seed pulse to the front and reach a pre-pulse pedestal below 1E-11 at 30 ps before the pulse peak. Detailed findings on all the examined pulse characteristics of the SYLOS laser will be reported in this presentation.