We have demonstrated 3.5W of 589nm light from a fiber laser using periodically poled stoichio-metric Lithium Tantalate (PPSLT) as the frequency conversion crystal. The system employs 938nm and 1583nm fiber lasers, which were sum-frequency mixed in PPSLT to generate 589nm light. The 938nm fiber laser consists of a single frequency diode laser master oscillator (200mW), which was amplified in two
stages to >15W using cladding pumped Nd3+ fiber amplifiers. The fiber amplifiers operate at 938nm and minimize amplified spontaneous emission at 1088nm by employing a specialty fiber design, which maximizes the core size relative to the cladding diameter. This design allows the 3-level laser system to operate at high inversion, thus making it competitive with the 1088nm 4-level laser transition. At 15W, the 938nm laser has an M2 of 1.1 and good polarization (correctable with a quarter and half wave plate to >15:1). The 1583nm fiber laser consists of a Koheras 1583nm fiber DFB laser that is pre-amplified to 100mW, phase modulated and then amplified to 14W in a commercial IPG fiber amplifier. As a part of our research efforts we are also investigating pulsed laser formats and power scaling of the 589nm system. We will discuss the fiber laser design and operation as well as our results in power scaling at 589nm.
We have demonstrated 466 mW of 469 nm light from a frequency doubled continuous wave fiber laser. The system consisted of a 938 nm single frequency laser diode master oscillator, which was amplified in two stages to 5 Watts using cladding pumped Nd 3+ fiber amplifiers and then frequency doubled in a single pass through periodically poled KTP. The 3 cm long PPKTP crystal was made by Raicol Crystals Ltd. with a period of 5.9 μm and had a phase match temperature of 47 degrees Centigrade. The beam was focused to a 1/e2 diameter in the crystal of 29 μm. Overall conversion efficiency was 11% and the results agreed well with standard models. Our 938 nm fiber amplifier design minimizes amplified spontaneous emission at 1088 nm by employing an optimized core to cladding size ratio. This design allows the 3-level transition to operate at high inversion, thus making it competitive with the 1088 nm 4-level transition. We have also carefully chosen the fiber coil diameter to help suppress propagation of wavelengths longer than 938 nm. At 2 Watts, the 938 nm laser had an M2 of 1.1 and good polarization (correctable with a quarter and half wave plate to >10:1).
The next generation of high-energy petawatt (HEPW)-class lasers will utilize multilayer dielectric diffraction gratings for pulse compression due to their high efficiency and high damage threshold for picosecond pulses. We have developed a short-pulse damage test station for accurate determination of the damage threshold of the optics used on future HEPW lasers. The design and performance of the damage test laser source, based on a highly stable, high-beam-quality optical parametric chirped-pulse amplifier, is presented. Our short-pulse damage measurement methodology and results are discussed. The damage initiation is attributed to multiphoton-induced avalanche ionization, strongly dependent on the electric field enhancement in the grating groove structure and surface defects. Measurement results of the dependence of damage threshold on the pulse width, angular dependence of damage threshold of diffraction gratings, and an investigation of short-pulse conditioning effects are presented. We report record >4 J/cm2 right section surface damage thresholds obtained on multilayer dielectric diffraction gratings at 76.5° incidence angles for 10-ps pulses.
Continuous wave (CW) fiber laser systems with output powers in excess of 500 W with good beam quality have now been demonstrated, as have high energy, short pulse, fiber laser systems with output energies in excess of 1 mJ. Fiber laser systems are attractive for many applications because they offer the promise of high efficiency, compact, robust systems. We have investigated fiber lasers for a number of applications requiring high average power and/or pulse energy with good beam quality at a variety of wavelengths. This has led to the development of a number of custom and unique fiber lasers. These include a short pulse, large bandwidth Yb fiber laser for use as a front end for petawatt class laser systems and a narrow bandwidth 0.938 μm output Nd fiber laser in the > 10 W power range.
Current and future large telescopes depend critically on laser guide
star adaptive optics (LGS AO) to achieve their scientific goals.
However, there are still relatively few scientific results reported
from existing LGS AO systems. We present some of the first science
results from the Lick Observatory sodium beacon LGS AO system. We
achieve high sensitivity to light scattered in the circumstellar
enviroment of Herbig Ae/Be stars on scales of 100-200 AU by coupling
the LGS AO system to a near-infrared (J,H,Ks bands) dual channel imaging polarimeter. We describe the design, implementation, and performance of this instrument. The dominant noise source near bright stars in AO images is a "seeing halo" of uncorrected speckles, and since these speckles are unpolarized, dual-channel polarimetry achieves a significant contrast gain. Our observations reveal a wide range of morphologies, including bipolar nebulosities with and without outflow-evacuated cavities and disk-mediated interaction among members of a binary. These data suggest that the evolutionary picture developed for the lower-mass T Tauri stars is also relevant to the Herbig Ae/Be stars, and demonstrate the ability of LGS AO systems to enhance the scientific capabilities of even modest sized telescopes.
We have developed a Nd:doped cladding pumped fiber amplifier, which operates at 938nm with greater than 2W of output power. The core co-dopants were specifically chosen to enhance emission at 938nm. The fiber was liquid nitrogen cooled in order to achieve four-level laser operation on a laser transition that is normally three level at room temperature, thus permitting efficient cladding pumping of the amplifier. Wavelength selective attenuation was induced by bending the fiber around a mandrel, which permitted near complete suppression of amplified spontaneous emission at 1088nm. We are presently seeking to scale the output of this laser to 10W. We will discuss the fiber and laser design issues involved in scaling the laser to the 10W power level and present our most recent results.
The Lick Observatory laser guide star adaptive optics system has undergone continual improvement and testing as it is being integrated as a facility science instrument on the Shane 3 meter telescope. Both Natural Guide Star (NGS) and Laser Guide Star (LGS) modes are now used in science observing programs. We report on system performance results as derived from data taken on both science and engineering nights and also describe the newly developed on-line techniques for seeing and system performance characterization. We also describe the future enhancements to the Lick system that will enable additional science goals such as long-exposure spectroscopy.
The Lick Observatory laser guide star adaptive optics system has been significantly upgraded over the past two years in order to establish it as a facility science instrument on the Shane 3 meter telescope. Natural Guide Star (NGS) mode has been in use in regular science observing programs for over a year. The Laser Guide Star (LGS) mode has been tested in engineering runs and is now starting to do science observing. In good seeing conditions, the system produces K-band Strehl ratios >0.7 (NGS) and >0.6 (LGS). In LGS mode tip/tilt guiding is achieved with a V~16 natural star anywhere inside a 1 arcminute radius field, which provides about 50% sky coverage. This enables diffraction-limited imaging of regions where few bright guidestars suitable for NGS mode are available. NGS mode requires at least a V~13 guidestar and has a sky coverage of <1%. LGS science programs will include high resolution studies of galaxies, active galactic nuclei, QSO host galaxies and dim pre-main sequence stars.
In 1999, we presented our plan to upgrade the adaptive optics (AO) system on the Lick Observatory Shane telescope (3m) from a prototype instrument pressed into field service to a facility instrument. This paper updates the progress of that plan and details several important improvements in the alignment and calibration of the AO bench. The paper also includes a discussion of the problems seen in the original design of the tip/tilt (t/t) sensor used in laser guide star mode, and how these problems were corrected with excellent results.
The LLNL Petawatt Laser has achieved focused intensities up to 6 by 1020 W/cm2. IN plasmas created by this laser, the quiver energy of target electrons exceed several MeV. Recent experiments revealed an intense, collimated beam of high-energy is converted into protons which leads to an energy content of 30J in a pulse of less than 10 ps. The beam shows a broad particle energy spectrum with a sharp cut off and an almost mono-energetic part above 55 MeV. With their short pulse duration, high particle energy and large luminosity these beams are promising candidates in numerous applications, such as short-pulse injectors for laser accelerators or as the ignitor for fast ignition ICF. Using intense proton beams the fast ignitor concept may also become more attractive in heavy-ion fusion due to the possibility to work with indirectly driven targets. Finally, the acceleration is not restricted to protons and the use of tailored target surfaces may allow to accelerate more massive ions to similar energy per nucleon.
Liquid crystal spatial light modulator technology appropriate for high-resolution wavefront control has recently become commercially available. Some of these devices have several hundred thousand controllable degrees of freedom, more than two orders of magnitude greater than the largest conventional deformable mirror. We will present results of experiments to characterize the optical properties of these devices and to utilize them to correct aberrations in an optical system. We will also present application scenarios for these devices in high-power laser systems.
We have developed a Ti:sapphire/Nd:glass laser system which produces > 1.25 PW peak power. An irradiance of 1020 - 1021 W/cm2 is achieved utilizing an on-axis parabolic mirror, with adaptive optic wavefront correction. Experimental results will be described.
The engineering process of integrating the Petawatt (1015 watts) laser system into the existing 30 kJ (UV) Nova laser at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is described in detail. The nanosecond-long, chirped Petawatt laser pulse is initially generated in a separate master oscillator room and then injected into one of Nova's 10 beamlines. There, the pulse is further amplified and enlarged to ~ Φ60 cm, temporally compressed under vacuum to <500 fs using large diameter diffraction gratings, and then finally focused onto targets using a parabolic mirror. The major Petawatt components are physically large which created many significant engineering challenges in design, installation and implementation. These include the diffraction gratings and mirrors, vacuum compressor chamber, target chamber, and parabolic focusing mirror. Other Petawatt system components were also technically challenging and include: an injection beamline, transport spatial filters, laser diagnostics, alignment components, motor controls, interlocks, timing and synchronization systems, support structures, and vacuum systems. The entire Petawatt laser system was designed, fabricated, installed, and activated while the Nova laser continued its normal two-shift operation. This process required careful engineering and detailed planning to prevent experimental downtime and to complete the project on schedule.
Recent simulations and experiments on Nova indicate that some level of smoothing may be required to suppress filamentation in plasmas on the National Ignition Facility, resulting in the addition of 1D smoothing capability to the current baseline design. Control of stimulated Brillouin scattering and filamentation is considered essential to the success of laser fusion because they affect the amount and location of laser energy delivered to the x-ray conversion region (holhraum wall) for indirect drive and to the absorptive region for direct drive. Smoothing by spectral dispersion (SSD), reduces these instabilities by reducing nonuniformities in the focal irradiance when averaged over a finite time interval. We have installed SSD on Nova to produce beam smoothing on all 10 beam lines. A single dispersion grating is located in a position common to all 10 beam lines early in the preamplifier chain. This location limits the 1(omega) bandwidth to 2.2 angstroms with sufficient dispersion to displace the speckle field of each frequency component at the target plane by one half speckle diameter. Several beam lines were modified to allow orientation of the dispersion on each arm relative to the holhraum wall. After conversion to the third harmonic the beam passes through a kinoform phase plate (KPP) designed to produce an elliptical spot at best focus. The KPPs produce a focal spot having an elliptical flat-top envelope with a superimposed speckle pattern. Over 93% of the energy is contained in the central 400 micrometers . Calculations indicate a 16% rms intensity variance will be reached after 330 ps for a single beam.
Experiments were performed on the 100-J class Optical Sciences Laser at LLNL to characterize the saturation fluence and small-signal gain of a solid-state Nd:glass amplifier utilizing LG-750 and LG-770, an amplifier glass developed for the National Ignition Facility (NIF). These high quality measurements of gain saturation at NIF level fluences, i.e., 10 - 15 J/cm2, provide essential parameters for the amplifier performance codes used to design NIF and future high power laser systems. The small- signal gain, saturation fluence and square-pulse distortion were measured as a function of input fluence and pulse length in platinum-free LG-750 and LG-770. The input fluence, output fluence, small-signal gain and passive losses were measured to allow calculation of the saturation fluence. Least squares fits of the output vs. input fluence data using a Frantz-Nodvik model was used to obtain an average saturation fluence for each data set. Overall, gain saturation in LG-750 and LG-770 is comparable to long pulse lengths. For shorter pulse lengths, < 5 ns, LG-770 exhibits a stronger pulse length dependence than LG-750, possibly de to a longer terminal level lifetime. LG-770 also has a higher cross-section, which is reflected by its slightly higher extraction efficiency.
We recently demonstrated the production of over a petawatt of peak power in the Nova/Petawatt Laser Facility, generating > 600 J in approximately 440 fs. The Petawatt Laser Project was initiated to develop the capability to test the fast ignitor concept for inertial confinement fusion, and to provide a unique capability in high energy density physics. The laser was designed to produce near kJ pulses with a pulse duration adjustable between 0.5 and 20 ps. At the shortest pulse lengths, this laser is expected to surpass 1021 W/cm2 when focused later this year. Currently, this system is limited to 600 J pulses in a 46.3- cm beam. Expansion of the beam to 58 cm, with the installation of 94-cm gratings, will enable 1 kJ operation. Target experiments with petawatt pulses will be possible either integrated with Nova in the 10 beam target chamber or as a stand alone system in an independent, dedicated chamber. Focusing the beam onto a target will be accomplished using an on axis parabolic mirror. The design of a novel targeting system enabling the production of ultrahigh contrast pulses and an easily variable effective focal length is also described.
We are presently adding the capability to irradiate indirectly-driven Nova targets with two rings of illumination inside each end of the hohlraum for studies of time-dependent second Legendre (P2) and time-integrated fourth Legendre (P4) flux asymmetry control. The rings will be formed with specially designed kinoform phase plates, which will direct each half of each beam into two separate rings that are nearly uniform azimuthally. The timing and temporal pulse shape of the outer rings will be controlled independently from those of the inner rings, allowing for phasing of the pulse shapes to control time dependent asymmetry. Modifications to the incident beam diagnostics will enable us to verify that acceptable levels of power balance among the contributing segments of each ring have been achieved on each shot. Current techniques for precision beam pointing and timing are expected to be sufficiently accurate for these experiments. We present a design for an affordable retrofit to achieve beam phasing on Nova, results of a simplified demonstration, and calculations highlighting the anticipated benefits.
In this paper we present experimental measurements and theoretical modeling of third harmonic (3(omega) ) conversion efficiency with optical bandwidth. Third harmonic conversion efficiency drops precipitously as the input bandwidth significantly exceeds the phase matching limitations of the conversion crystals. For Type I/Type II frequency tripling, conversion efficiency begins to decrease for bandwidths greater than approximately 60 GHz. However, conversion efficiency corresponding to monochromatic phase-matched beams can be recovered provided that the instantaneous propagation vectors are phase matched at all times. This is achieved by imposing angular spectral dispersion (ASD) on the input beam via a diffraction grating, with a dispersion such that the phase mismatch for each frequency is zero. Experiments were performed on the Optical Sciences Laser (OSL), a 1 - 100 J class laser at LLNL. These experiments used a 200 GHz bandwidth source produced by a multipassed electro-optic phase modulator. The spectrum produced was composed of discrete frequency components spaced at 3 GHz intervals. Angular dispersion was incorporated by the addition of a 1200 gr/mm diffraction grating oriented at the Littrow angle, and capable of rotation about the beam direction. Experiments were performed with a pulse length of 1-ns and a 1(omega) input intensity of approximately 4 GW/cm2 for near optimal dispersion for phase matching, 5.2 (mu) rad/GHz, with 0.1, 60, and 155 GHz bandwidth, as well as for partial dispersion compensation, 1.66 (mu) rad/GHz, with 155 GHz and 0.1 GHz bandwidth. The direction of dispersion was varied incrementally 360 degrees about the beam diameter. The addition of the grating to the beamline reduced the narrowband conversion efficiency by approximately 10%. Sufficient dispersion to allow nearly full phase-matching of all frequency components along the sensitive axis of the tripler allowed recovery of the narrow band conversion efficiency with bandwidth. However, even partial dispersion compensation was shown to significantly increase broadband 3(omega) conversion efficiency.
A novel four-color beam smoothing scheme with a capability similar to that planned for the proposed National Ignition Facility has been deployed on the Nova laser, and has been successfully used for laser fusion experiments. Wavefront aberrations in high power laser systems produce nonuniformities in the energy distribution of the focal spot that can significantly degrade the coupling of energy into a fusion target, driving various plasma instabilities. The introduction of temporal and spatial incoherence over the face of the beam using techniques such as smoothing by spectral dispersion (SSD) can reduce these variations in the focal irradiance when averaged over a finite time interval. One of the limitations of beam smoothing techniques used to date with solid state laser systems has been the inability to efficiently frequency convert broadband pulses to the third harmonic (351 nm). To obtain high conversion efficiency, we developed a multiple frequency source that is spatially separated into four quadrants, each containing a different central frequency. Each quadrant is independently converted to the third harmonic in a four-segment Type I/Type II KDP crystal array with independent phase-matching for efficient frequency conversion. Up to 2.3 kJ of third harmonic light is generated in a 1 ns pulse, corresponding to up to 65% intrinsic conversion efficiency. SSD is implemented by adding limited frequency modulated bandwidth to each frequency component. This improves smoothing without significant impact on the frequency conversion process. The measured far field irradiance shows 25% rms intensity variation with four colors alone, and is calculated to reach this level within 3 ps. Smoothing by spectral dispersion is implemented during the spatial separation of the FM modulated beams to provide additional smoothing, reaching a 16% rms intensity variation level. Following activation the four-color system was successfully used to probe NIF-like plasmas, producing less than 1% SBS backscatter at greater than 2 multiplied by 1015 W/cm2. This paper discusses the detailed implementation and performance of the segmented four-color system on the Nova laser system.
We report ultrafast measurements of the dynamic thermal expansion of a surface and the temperature dependent surface thermal diffusivity using a two-color reflection transient grating technique. Studies were performed on p-type, n-type, and undoped GaAs(100) samples at several temperatures. Using a 75 fs ultraviolet probe with visible excitation beams, the electronic effects that dominate single color experiments become negligible; thus surface expansion due to heating and the subsequent contraction caused by cooling provide the dominant influence on the diffracted probe. The diffracted signal was composed of two components, thermal expansion of the surface and heat flow away from the surface, allowing the determination of the rate of expansion as well as the surface thermal diffusivity. At room temperature a signal rise due to thermal expansion was observed, corresponding to a maximum average displacement of approximately equals 1 angstroms at 32 ps. Large fringe spacings were used, thus the dominant contributions to the signal were expansion and diffusion perpendicular to the surface. Values for the surface thermal diffusivity of GaAs were measured and found to be in reasonable agreement with bulk values above 50 degree(s)K. Below 50 degree(s)K, the diffusivity at the surface was more than an order of magnitude slower than in the bulk due to increased phonon boundary scattering. Comparison of the results with a straightforward thermal model yields good agreement over a range of temperatures (12 - 300 degree(s)K). The applicability and advantages of the transient grating technique for studying photothermal and photoacoustic phenomena are discussed.
We present the results of experiments performed on the Nova laser system to determine the effect of bandwidth on third harmonic (3(omega) ) frequency conversion and beam smoothing by spectral dispersion (SSD). Our experiments utilized a wide bandwidth fiber optic cross- phase modulated (XPM) source and a narrower bandwidth microwave modulated (FM) source, each centered at 1053 nm (1 (omega) ). A significant fraction (> 50%) of the 1(omega) XPM bandwidth was transferred to the 3(omega) beam (22 cm-1 yields 36 cm-1), yielding 0.13% bandwidth at 3(omega) . The maximum intrinsic narrowband 3(omega) frequency conversion obtained using a type-II/type-II KDP crystal array was 62%. The intrinsic efficiency obtained at the Nova 10-beam chamber is typically > 65%. Frequency conversion was essentially unaffected by the 2 cm-1 bandwidth obtained from FM source. However, the 5 - 16 cm-1 of bandwidth from the XPM source reduced the conversion efficiency to approximately 24%. We have developed broadband frequency conversion codes and broadband pulse simulations to model our results, and have obtained good agreement with experiment.