The Orion Laser Facility at AWE in the UK consists of ten nanosecond beamlines and two sub-picosecond beamlines. The nanosecond beamlines each nominally deliver 500 J at 351 nm in a 1 ns square temporal profile, but can also deliver a user-definable temporal profile with durations between 0.1 ns and 5 ns. The sub-picosecond beamlines each nominally deliver 500 J at 1053 nm in a 500 fs pulse, with a peak irradiance of greater than 10<sup>21</sup> W/cm<sup>2</sup>. One of the sub-picosecond beamlines can also be frequency-converted to deliver 100 J at 527 nm in a 500 fs pulse, although this is at half the aperture of the 1053 nm beam. Commissioning of all twelve beamlines has been completed, including the 527 nm sub-picosecond option. An overview of the design of the Orion beamlines will be presented, along with a summary of the commissioning and subsequent performance data. The design of Orion was underwritten by running various computer simulations of the beamlines. Work is now underway to validate these simulations against real system data, with the aim of creating predictive models of beamline performance. These predictive models will enable the user’s experimental requirements to be critically assessed ahead of time, and will ultimately be used to determine key system settings and parameters. The facility is now conducting high energy density physics experiments. A capability experiment has already been conducted that demonstrates that Orion can generate plasmas at several million Kelvin and several times solid density. From March 2013 15% of the facility operating time will be given over to external academic users in addition to collaborative experiments with AWE scientists.
The Orion laser facility at AWE in the UK began operations at the start of 2012 to study high energy density physics. It consists of ten nanosecond beam lines and two sub-picosecond beam lines. The nanosecond beam lines each deliver 500 J per beam in 1ns at 351nm with a user-definable pulse shape between 0.1ns and 5ns. The short pulse beams each deliver 500J on target in 500fs with an intensity of greater than 10<sup>21</sup> Wcm<sup>-2</sup> per beam. All beam lines have been demonstrated, delivering a pulse to target as described. A summary of the design of the facility will be presented, along with its operating performance over the first year of experimental campaigns. The facility has the capability to frequency-double one of the short pulse beams, at sub aperture, to deliver a high contrast short pulse to target with up to 100J. This occurs post-compression and uses a 3mm thick, 300mm aperture KDP crystal. The design and operational performance of this work will be presented. During 2012, the laser performance requirements have been demonstrated and key diagnostics commissioned; progress of this will be presented. Target diagnostics have also been commissioned during this period. Also, there is a development program under way to improve the contrast of the short pulse (at the fundamental) and the operational efficiency of the long pulse. It is intended that, from March 2013, 15% of facility operating time will be made available to external academic users in addition to collaborative experiments with AWE scientists.
Project Orion will provide a facility for performing high energy density plasma physics experiments at AWE. The laser
consists of ten, nanosecond beam lines delivering a total of 5kJ with 0.1-5ns temporally shaped pulses and two short
pulse beam lines, each producing 500J in 0.5ps with intensity > 10^21 W/cm^2. The performance of the Orion laser is
reported as the first phase of commissioning (one short and one long pulse beam) concludes. Target shots with all beam
lines will begin in 2012.