J.-C. Gauthier, et al.
J. Phys. IV France 133 (2006) 561-565
Power amplification for petawatt Ti: Sapphire lasers: New strategies for high fluence pumpingF. Canova and J.-P. Chambaret
Laboratoire d'Optique Appliquée, ENSTA - École Polytechnique, Chemin de la Hunière, 91761 Palaiseau Cedex, France
One of the major bottlenecks when we pump large Ti:Sapphire crystals, to reach Petawatt-level laser amplification, is the careful control of the spatial energy distribution of Nd:Glass pump lasers. Commercially available nanosecond Nd:Glass and Nd:YAG lasers exhibit poor spatial profile quality especially in the near and in the intermediate field, which can lead to local hot spots, responsible of damages in crystals, and parasitic transverse lasing enhancement, strongly dependent on the profile of the pump beam . For these reasons, it is mandatory to keep the pump beam intensity profile as flat as possible on the pumped crystal. To guarantee the best pumping conditions we are investigating the combined use of DOE (diffractive optical elements) and optical smoothing techniques. In parallel we are starting a study on laser induced damages mechanisms in crystal. With DOE and microlens arrays we plan to guarantee to the beam a supergaussian shape. Simulation and first experiments with both optical systems show that a flat top spatial profile with less than 10% fluctuations and a 8th order supergaussian is possible with the present technology.Optical smoothing will keep the beam free of hot spots. We especially focused on the smoothing techniques involving optical fibers. This is the first time to our knowledge that this technique is applied to the pumping beams for Ti:Sapphire systems. A deep study of laser-crystal interaction will allow us to fully understand the damages created by hot spots. The knowledge of the phenomena involved in laser damages on Ti:Sapphire is mandatory to control the pumping processes and thresholds. In conclusion, mixing the advantages of these different approaches to overcome this bottleneck will allow us to amplify in a safety way femtosecond laser beams to the Petawatt level using Ti:Sapphire crystals.
© EDP Sciences 2006