Adaptive Optics (AO) is a key technology for ground-based astronomical telescopes, allowing to overcome the limits imposed by atmospheric turbulence and obtain high resolution images. This technique however, has not been developed for small size telescopes, because of its high cost and complexity. We realized an AO system based on a Multi-actuator Adaptive Lens and a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor (WFS), allowing for a great compactness and simplification of the optical design. The system was integrated on a 11” telescope and controlled by a consumer-grade laptop allowing to perform Closed-Loop AO correction up to 400 Hz.
The recent integration of silicene in field-effect transistors (FET) opened new challenges in the comprehension of the chemical and physical properties of this elusive two-dimensional allotropic form of silicon. Intense efforts have been devoted to the study of the epitaxial Silicene/Ag(111) system in order to elucidate the presence of Dirac fermion in analogy with graphene; strong hybridization effects in silicene superstructures on silver have been invoked as responsible for the disruption of π and π* bands. In this framework, the measured ambipolar effect in silicene-based FET characterized by a relatively high mobility, points out to a complex physics at the silicene-silver interface, demanding for a deeper comprehension of its details on the atomic scale. Here we elucidate the role of the metallic support in determining the physical properties of the Si/Ag interface, by means of optical techniques combined with theoretical calculations of the optical response of the supported system. The silicene/Ag(111) spectra, which turn out to be strongly non-additive, are analyzed in the framework of theoretical density functional based calculations allowing us to single out contributions arising from different localization. Electronic transitions involving silver states are found to provide a huge contribution to the optical absorption of silicene on silver, compatible with a strong Si-Ag hybridization. The results point to a dimensionality-driven peculiar dielectric response of the two-dimensional-silicon/silver interface, which is confirmed by means of Transient-Reflectance spectroscopy. The latter shows a metallic-like carrier dynamics, (both for silicene and amorphous silicon), hence providing an optical demonstration of the strong hybridization arising in silicene/Ag(111) systems.
We present the design, realization and characterization of active deformable gratings for extreme-ultraviolet monochromators for ultrashort pulses. The core device consists of a bimorph deformable mirror on the top of which a diffraction grating with laminar profile is realized by UV lithography. The curvature radius of the grating substrate can be varied changing the voltage applied to an underlying piezo-actuator. The advantage of this technology is to provide gratings with high optical quality, robust, compatible with any coating deposition and realized with only vacuumcompatible materials. We present the characterization of a time-delay compensated monochromator realized with these devices, showing that the active grating can optimize the beam focusing through its rotation and deformation. Two equal active gratings have been mounted in a compensated configuration to realize a grazing-incidence double-grating monochromator for the spectral selection of ultrashort pulses and the simultaneous compensation of the pulse front-tilt given by the diffraction. The wavelength scanning is performed by the first grating through rotation. The radiation is focused on the intermediate plane, where a slit carries out the spectral selection. Finally, the second grating compensates for the pulse front-tilt given by the first one. The spectral focusing of both gratings is maintained at the different wavelengths through the variation of the radii of curvature. The instrument has been tested with a Ti:Sa laser operated at 800 nm. We have been able to demonstrate that the double-grating configuration with active gratings compensates for the pulse front-tilt, that is reduced from 1 ps at the intermediate plane to 100 fs at the output. The final value is limited by the group delay dispersion of the monochromator within the 10-nm bandwidth of the laser. A configuration for the selection on XUV ultrashort pulses has been theoretically studied and the expected performances presented. Active gratings may be considered as a cheaper and more flexible alternative to standard gratings for the realization of extremeultraviolet monochromators for ultrafast pulses, such as free-electron lasers and high-order laser harmonics.
We review recent advances in the generation of isolated attosecond pulses, produced by using the process of
high-order harmonic generation in gases. In particular we report on a novel technique, based on the production
of a temporal gate obtained exploiting sub-cycle ionization dynamics of the neutral atom population. Isolated
attosecond pulses with time duration of 155 as and an energy on target of 2.1 nJ were generated and fully
characterized. Such isolated pulses can be used in attosecond pump-probe experiments to study ultra-fast
electronic dynamics in atoms and molecules with attosecond temporal resolution.
High-order laser harmonics (HHs) produced by the interaction between a very intense ultrashort laser pulse and a gas jet
represent an extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) radiation source with high brightness, coherence and peak intensity. The
characterization of processes involving the use of HHs deserves a particular attention in the design of the beamline that
is demanded to manage the XUV radiation. From the instrumental point of view, the photon throughput depends mainly
from the efficiency of the optical elements. Here we present the experimental study of the optical properties of thin
carbon films to be used as grazing-incidence coatings for XUV HHs. Several carbon samples were deposited on plane
glass substrates by electron beam evaporation technique. The sample reflectivity was measured at different incidence
angles in the 6.7-120 nm (190-10 eV) region. The optical constants (real and imaginary part of the refraction index)
have been calculated. The results are in good agreement with what is reported in the literature and confirm that carboncoated
optics operated at grazing incidence have a remarkable gain over conventional metallic coatings in the XUV.
Since XUV HHs co-propagate with the intense infrared laser generating beam, it is important to measure the damage
threshold of the coating when exposed to ultrashort infrared laser pulses. The experimental results obtained on carbon
samples will be presented.
In this work we report on the optimization of the conversion efficiency of the harmonic generation process, by adaptive control of the wavefront of sub-10-fs light pulses, obtained by using a deformable mirror and a genetic algorithm. Sub-10-fs, 0.2-mJ energy light pulses, generated by the hollow-fiber compression technique, were focused in the gas target (argon or neon) by a 250-mm focal-length mirror. Pulse wavefront correction has been achieved by using a deformable mirror (DM) controlled by 37 actuators distributed on a honeycomb pattern of 15 mm diameter. The harmonic radiation was observed by a soft-X-ray spectrometer, with double output: time-integrated high-resolution bidimensional focal-plane image and real-time (1 kHz) intensity of a suitable spectral region. This latter signal was used as fitness parameter for the genetic algorithm; an initial population of DM configurations was initialized with random values of the actuator signals. A new generation of DM configurations is derived from ordering, selection and transformation of previous generation, up to the convergence to the fittest individual. Strong enhancement of the harmonic conversion efficiency of about one order of magnitude, as well as a significant extension of the harmonic spectrum is evident. The initial and optimal wavefronts of the fundamental beam were measured both in real time with an Hartmann sensor and off-line using a ZYGO interferometer. Using the measured beam wavefront were calculated the spatial characteristics of the fundamental beam.