Overview of progress in construction and testing of the laser systems of ELI-Beamlines, accomplished since 2015, is presented. Good progress has been achieved in construction of all four lasers based largely on the technology of diode-pumped solid state lasers (DPSSL). The first part of the L1 laser, designed to provide 200 mJ <15 fs pulses at 1 kHz repetition rate, is up and running. The L2 is a development line employing a 10 J / 10 Hz cryogenic gas-cooled pump laser which has recently been equipped with an advanced cryogenic engine. Operation of the L3-HAPLS system, using a gas-cooled DPSSL pump laser and a Ti:sapphire broadband amplifier, was recently demonstrated at 16 J / 28 fs, at 3.33 Hz rep rate. Finally, the 5 Hz OPCPA front end of the L4 kJ laser is up running and amplification in the Nd:glass large-aperture power amplifiers was demonstrated.
Large laser systems that deliver optical pulses with peak powers exceeding one Petawatt (PW) have been constructed at dozens of research facilities worldwide and have fostered research in High-Energy-Density (HED) Science, High-Field and nonlinear physics . Furthermore, the high intensities exceeding 1018W/cm2 allow for efficiently driving secondary sources that inherit some of the properties of the laser pulse, e.g. pulse duration, spatial and/or divergence characteristics. In the intervening decades since that first PW laser, single-shot proof-of-principle experiments have been successful in demonstrating new high-intensity laser-matter interactions and subsequent secondary particle and photon sources. These secondary sources include generation and acceleration of charged-particle (electron, proton, ion) and neutron beams, and x-ray and gamma-ray sources, generation of radioisotopes for positron emission tomography (PET), targeted cancer therapy, medical imaging, and the transmutation of radioactive waste [2, 3]. Each of these promising applications requires lasers with peak power of hundreds of terawatt (TW) to petawatt (PW) and with average power of tens to hundreds of kW to achieve the required secondary source flux.
Overview of the laser systems being built for ELI-Beamlines is presented. The facility will make available high-brightness multi-TW ultrashort laser pulses at kHz repetition rate, PW 10 Hz repetition rate pulses, and kilojoule nanosecond pulses for generation of 10 PW peak power. The lasers will extensively employ the emerging technology of diode-pumped solid-state lasers (DPSSL) to pump OPCPA and Ti:sapphire broadband amplifiers. These systems will provide the user community with cutting-edge laser resources for programmatic research in generation and applications of high-intensity X-ray sources, in particle acceleration, and in dense-plasma and high-field physics.
The ELI Beamlines facility will house repetition rate high-power lasers with pulse durations down to 15 fs and over petawatt peak powers. Our research group participates in the construction of a cryogenically cooled Yb:YAG multi-slab amplifier; part of the L2 beamline. The system shall provide square, super-Gaussian beam with nearly 2 ns pulses with rectangular temporal profile and energy of up to 10 J at 10 Hz. The laser will provide pump beams for broadband OPCPA stages. The diagnostic system of the pump laser is critical for the correct performance analysis, stabilization feedback and mostly for the machine interlock system as damages of the expensive optical components can develop very fast with the 10 Hz repetition rate. The diagnostic system provides key laser parameters and characteristics in temporal, spectral and spatial domain. The paper describes testing of the setup for measurements of the final 10 J output. Its design is based on a combination of optical wedges and diffractive sampler to facilitate multiple diagnostics on a relatively small footprint. The laser diagnostics package covers measurements in spatial domain such as near-field, far-field, or wavefront analysis, further optical spectrum, pulse energy and temporal shape. In order to detect possible damage dark-field analysis was implemented as well. The final setup was modeled in optical design software (Radiant Zemax) to understand its behavior and later tested together with real-time LabVIEW code developed by our group as being part of the machine interlock system. The first results of the tests as well as detailed description of the diagnostics package design are presented.
The goal of our research is a compact Raman laser emitting short pulses with high energy and peak power in “eye-safe" region around wavelength 1.5 μm. We utilize intracavity conversion of giant pulses at wavelength 1.34 μm in a BaWO4 Raman crystal (18 mm long, AR coated). Required high energy and peak power was reached using a flash-lamp pumped Nd:YAG laser (rod 100 mm long, diameter 4 mm), Q-switched by V:YAG solid-state saturable absorber (initial transmission 37% @ 1.34 μm). The L-shaped oscillator for 1.34 μm radiation consisted of a concave mirror (r = 0.5 m, HR @ 1.3 μm, HT @ 1.06 μm), flat polarizing intracavity mirror, and output coupler (r = 1 m, HR @ 1.3 μm, R = 39 % @ 1.5 μm). The polarizing mirror ensured stable linearly polarized laser emission and prevented parasitic oscillations at 1.06 μm. The Raman laser oscillator was formed by the output coupler and another intracavity mirror (r = 0.5 m, HR @ 1.5 μm, HT @ 1.3 μm), inserted between BaWO4 and the polarizing mirror. For pumping energy of 28.2 J stable vertically polarized generation of the 1st Stokes radiation at 1528 nm was reached. In multimode operation the output energy was 20 mJ in 2.25 ns pulses. Single mode operation was possible by inserting a 1.5 mm aperture between Nd:YAG and V:YAG crystal. The output energy dropped to 9.7 mJ (even for higher pump power of 30.7 W) and output pulses were shortened to 1.87 ns.