The Production of Petawatt Laser Pulses
Chirped-pulse amplification applied to broad-bandwidth solid-state lasers has created a revolution in the production and use of terawatt and now petawatt class lasers.1,2 The concepts and technology contributing to this revolution have evolved continuously since the early 1970’s. Following the grating compressor work of Treacy3, Bischell4 and others described the application of chirped-pulse amplification to Nd:Glass lasers. This was followed by a large amount of work on fiber-grating pulse compression for communication research.5 In 1985, Strickland and Mourou combined many of these ideas into the first practical demonstration of chirped-pulse amplification with a solid-state laser.6 Following this initial demonstration, rapid developments in technology such as the stretcher design of Martinez7 led to small scale systems capable of terawatt8 and multiterawatt pulses.9–11 Occurring in parallel with the development of chirped-pulse amplification technology using Nd:Glass lasers, was the development of the new laser material, titanium-doped sapphire. The commercial availability of this unique laser material dramatically propelled the revolution in CPA based solid-state lasers. An overwhelming majority of CPA lasers now employ Ti:sapphire either throughout the entire laser system or at least as the oscillator material.13 These early developments and the large amount of effort that has gone into the laser technology in recent years have culminated in high pulse energy systems producing pulses with a peak power of 125 TW14 and very short-pulse systems producing multiterawatt pulses which only contain a few optical cycles.15–18 Here, we describe the limits of CPA technology in the context of a large scale system producing pulses with a peak power exceeding 1.25 petawatts (1250 TW).
KeywordsDamage Threshold Diffraction Efficiency Glass Laser Optic Letter Small Signal Gain
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