Monday, October 29, 2007

Surface heating of wire plasmas using laser-irradiated cone geometries

It's reported on the recent issue of Nature Physics.

Petawatt lasers can generate extreme states of matter, making them unique tools for high-energy-density physics. Pressures in the gigabar regime can potentially be generated with cone-wire targets when the coupling efficiency is high and temperatures reach 2–4 keV. The only other method of obtaining such gigantic pressures is to use the megajoule laser facilities being constructed (National Ignition Facility and Laser MégaJoule). The energy can be transported over surprisingly long distances but, until now, the guiding mechanism has remained unclear. Here, we present the first definitive experimental proof that the heating is maximized close to the wire surface, by comparison of interferometric measurements with hydrodynamic simulations. New hybrid particle-in-cell simulations show the complex field structures for the first time, including a reversal of the magnetic field on the inside of the wire. This increases the return current in a spatially separated thin layer below the wire surface, resulting in the enhanced level of ohmic heating. There are a significant number of applications in high-energy-density science, ranging from equation-of-state studies to bright, hard X-ray sources, that will benefit from this new understanding of energy transport.

LSP modelling of the azimuthal magnetic field structure at the cone tip, 600 fs after the main interaction. A reversed field can be seen on the inside of the wire surface corresponding to the ohmic return current, which is shown on the right picture.

Generation of intense continuum EUVradiation by many-cycle laser fields

The scientists at Institute of Electronic Structure & Laser in Greece and Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik in Germany reported their research results in recent issue of Nature Physics.

Continuing efforts in ultrashort pulse engineering have recently led to the breakthroughs of the generation of attosecond (10^-18 s) pulse trains and isolated pulses. Although trains of multiple pulses can be generated through the interaction of many-optical-cycle pulses with gases—a process that has led to intense extreme-ultraviolet emission—the generation of isolated high-intensity pulses, which requires few-cycle driving pulses, remains a challenge. Here, we report a vital step towards the generation of such pulses, the production of broad continuum extreme-ultraviolet emission using a high-intensity, many-cycle, infrared pulsed laser, through the interferometric modulation of the ellipticity of 50-fs-long driving pulses. The increasing availability of high-power many-cycle lasers and their potential use in the construction of intense attosecond radiation—with either gas or solid-surface targets—offer exciting opportunities for multiphoton extreme-ultraviolet-pump–extreme-ultraviolet-probe studies of laser–matter and laser–plasma interactions.

The Dual Michelson interferometer device is shown in the left picture, BS: beam splitters. M: flat mirrors. TS1,2,3: piezoelectric translation stages. A: intensity attenuator. First and second MI: first and second Michelson interferometers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Beam Homogenizer

A beam homogenizer is a device that smooths out the irregularities in a laser beam profile and creates a more uniform one. Most beam homogenizers use a multifaceted mirror with square facets. The mirror reflects light at different angles to create a beam with uniform power across the whole beam profile (a "top hat" profile).

The best results have been achieved with fly eye homogenizers which are composed of individually polished cylindrical lenses. The incoming laser beam is divided by an array of cylindrical lenses f_1 into several beamlets with size d. These beamlets match with the cylindrical lenses of a second array f_2. This second array and a condenser lens f_3 overlap all these beamlets in the focal plane of f_3. The homogenizer size D is proportional to the focal length of the collecting lens, the diameter and focal length of the micro-lens, and can be calculated using Equation:


Interested Links:
Beam-shaping optics expand excimer-laser applications
How to Design a Gaussian to Top-Hat Beam Shaper

Friday, October 05, 2007

Solar laser or solar energy laser?

Based on the news from, Japanese team revives solar lasers in quest for clean fuels.

The idea of using solar energy to power lasers is not new. Current designs work by using a system of mirrors to concentrate sunlight into an Nd:YAG crystal, but these lasers are not widely used because they require huge mirrors to collect the light – and even then achieve only low efficiency.

To address these issues, Takashi Yabe and colleagues at the Tokyo Institute of Technology experimented with using a Fresnel lens instead of mirrors as light collectors. They also found that doping the Nd:YAG crystal with small amounts of chromium significantly increases the power output of the laser.

The laser demonstrated by the team produces a power output of 24 W at 1064 nm. The design, which incorporates a 1.3 m2 Fresnel lens, offers an unprecedented slope efficiency of 12% above a threshold solar input of 500 W.