Optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification (OPCPA) implemented using multikilojoule Nd:glass pump lasers is a promising approach to produce ultra-intense pulses (>10^23 W/cm^2) . Systems using deuterated potassium dihydrogen phosphate (DKDP) for high-energy amplifiers are being developed by a number of institutions
[2–4]. Noncollinear optical parametric amplifiers (NOPA’s) made of DKDP produce broadband gain for supporting pulses as short as 10 fs centered near 920 nm. Large-aperture DKDP crystals (>400 mm) make it possible to use Nd:glass lasers as kilojoule pump sources. Although OPCPA is now routinely used as a broadband front-end technology for many hybrid systems, scaling OPCPA to energies >100 J is still an active area of laser research and development.
This paper reports on a technology development program at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics where progress is being made toward the long-term goal of a femtosecond-kilojoule system pumped by the OMEGA EP laser. The goal is to pump an optical parametric amplifier line (EP OPAL) with two of the OMEGA EP beamlines. The resulting ultra-intense pulses (1.5 kJ, 20 fs, 10^24 W/cm^2) would be used jointly with picosecond and nanosecond pulses produced by the other two beamlines.
A midscale all-OPCPA laser is being designed and constructed to address the technical challenges of the full-scale system. The mid-scale OPAL pumped by the Multi-Terawatt (MTW) laser will 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 ultra-intense pulses.
This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration under Award Number DE-NA0003856, the University of Rochester, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
1. Ross, I. N., Matousek, P., Towrie, M., Langley, A. J. and Collier, J. L., “The prospects for ultrashort pulse duration and ultrahigh intensity using optical parametric chirped pulse amplifiers,” Opt. Commun. 144(1-3), 125-133 (1997).
2. Lozhkarev, V. V., Freidman, G. I., Ginzburg, V. N., Khazanov, E. A., Palashov, O. V., Sergeev, A. M. and Yakovlev, I. V., “Study of broadband optical parametric chirped pulse amplification in a DKDP crystal pumped by the second harmonic of a Nd:YLF laser,” Laser Phys. 15(9), 1319-1333 (2005).
3. Tang, Y., Ross, I. N., Hernandez-Gomez, C., New, G. H. C., Musgrave, I., Chekhlov, O. V., Matousek, P. and Collier, J. L., “Optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification source suitable for seeding high-energy systems,” Opt. Lett. 33(20), 2386-2388 (2008).
4. Cartlidge, E., “The light fantastic,” Science 359(6374), 382-385 (2018).
Pulse stretchers are critical components in chirped pulse amplification (CPA) and optical parametric CPA (OPCPA) laser systems. In CPA systems, pulse stretching and compression is typical accomplished using bulk diffraction gratings; however integrated devices such volume or fiber Bragg gratings can provide similar optical performance with significantly smaller footprint and simplified alignment. In this work, we discuss the use of such integrated devices to stretch a 100 fs pulse to 400 ps with customized third order dispersion for use in a multi-TW Ti:Sapphire system as well as integrated optics to control the pulse duration in pump lasers for OPCPA systems.
We present the design and challenges of a diode-pumped solid-state (DPSS) system to amplify picosecond pulses to high pulse energies and high average powers. We discuss our implemented solutions to mitigate thermal effects and present the obtained performance of the picosecond pulse amplification at the multi-10-MW level. Our here presented picosecond DPSS laser is well suited for pumping an optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification (OPCPA) system. Several laser technologies have been employed to pump OPCPA systems and we show how our DPSS system compares in performance to the other approaches.
More than 20 years after the first presentation of optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification (OPCPA), the technology has matured as a powerful technique to produce high-intensity, few-cycle, and ultrashort laser pulses. The output characteristics of these systems cover a wide range of center wavelengths, pulse energies, and average powers. The current record performance of table-top, few-cycle OPCPA systems are 16 TW peak power and 22 W average power, which show that OPCPA is able to directly compete with Ti:sapphire chirped-pulse amplification-based systems as source for intense optical pulses. Here, we review the concepts of OPCPA and present the current state-of-the art performance level for several systems reported in the literature. To date, the performance of these systems is most generally limited by the employed pump laser. Thus, we present a comprehensive review on the recent progress in high-energy, high-average-power, picosecond laser systems, which provide improved performance relative to OPCPA pump lasers employed to date. From here, the impact of these novel pump lasers on table-top, few-cycle OPCPA is detailed and the prospects for next-generation OPCPA systems are discussed.
In the Spring Semester of 2011, Univ. of Central Florida's CREOL introduced an elective course in Optomechanical Design. In addition to homework assignments and exams, one component of the course grade was a design project. Rather than the traditional "assigned" project, the instructor experimented with a novel research-centric approach. Specifically,
students were asked to select a project directly applicable to their graduate research. While challenging for the instructor to grade, student motivation and performance remained exceptionally high throughout the semester. This paper summarizes the background, projects, and pedagogical benefits of such a research-centric approach to project-based learning.
The pump beam generation line of an optical parametric chirped pulse amplifier (OPCPA) system providing few-cycle
pulses with energy in the millijoule range at repetition rates up to 10 kHz is presented. The overall design of the system
is briefly discussed including stretching-compressing and parametric amplification. The main emphasis is on the
requirements on the pump beam for successful pumping of a parametric amplifier. Aspects of the design of the multistage
hybrid amplifier line are detailed and performances of each stage are presented.