High-explosive charges were used in the early 1980's at Los Alamos National Laboratory to pump high-energy atomic-iodine lasers. Laser outputs at the kilojoule level were measured in a series of experiments. Two techniques were used to convert the high-explosive (HE) energy release to optical radiation for the photolysis of the perfluoroalkyliodide fuel. One technique used strong shockwaves propagating through argon gas and driven by the detonation as an intense optical pump source. The second approach used exploding metal films driven by megampere-level current pulses from explosive-driven magnetic flux compression generators. The optical extraction system for both types of single-pulse lasers was a power oscillator configuration using a stable resonator. The purpose of these experiments was to evaluate the scaling potential of HE-driven lasers for a number of applications including inertial confinement fusion. The HE field experiments were supported by a number of laboratory laser experiments. Exploding wires were used to pump 100-J atomic-iodine lasers (and 20-J molecular iodine lasers). Atomic-iodine lasers were also pumped with exploding metal films. In support of this work, several types of optical pump sources were characterized. These included HE-driven shockwaves in a variety of rare gases, exploding metal wires and films, surface discharges, ablating-wall flashlamps, and xenon flashlamps. Equivalent blackbody temperatures as a function of various parameters were measured for each source using absolutely calibrated photodetectors equipped with optical bandpass filters.
Randy C.R. Jones, Randy C.R. Jones,
"Review of explosive-driven iodine lasers in the U.S.", Proc. SPIE 2502, Gas Flow and Chemical Lasers: Tenth International Symposium, (31 March 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.204935; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.204935