The laser-driven Thomson scattering light source generates x-rays by the scattering of a high-energy electron beam off a high-intensity laser pulse. We have demonstrated that this source can generate collimated, narrowband x-ray beams in the energy range 0.1-12 MeV. In this work, we discuss recent results on the application of this source for radiography and photonuclear studies. The unique characteristics of the source make it possible to do this with the lowest possible dose and in a low-noise environment. We will also discuss recent experimental results that study nuclear reactions above the threshold for photodisintegration and photofission. The tunable nature of the source permits activation of specific targets while suppressing the signal from background materials.
A repetitive petawatt-class Ti:sapphire laser system operating with high spatial and temporal beam quality is demonstrated. Maximum pulse energy of 30 J is obtained via five multi-pass amplification stages. Closed-loop feedback control systems in the temporal and spatial domains are used to yield Fourier-transform-limited pulse duration (33.7 fs), and diffraction-limited focal spot sizes (with several different tight focusing optics). The laser parameters have been fully characterized at high-power, and are monitored in real-time, to ensure that they meet the experimental requirements for laser-wakefield electron acceleration and x-ray generation.