Thursday, October 13, 2016
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High power laser facilities capable of generating petawatt (1015 W) level pulses are producing peak intensities that become applicable to a wide range of applications that includes high energy physics. State-of-the-art in high power laser systems consistently produce pulses with nearly flat-top spatial modes that suggest a technique for pulse post-compression that could extend the intensities achievable within existing facilities. A scheme for Thin Film Compression has been recommended by Mourou et al. that relies upon submillimeter films as the nonlinear medium for spectral broadening followed by recompression using dispersion-controlled mirror pairs. Theoretical simulations demonstrate the potential for such a system and the efficiency of the process presents a route to compress the high power laser toward its wavelength-defined fundamental limit of a few femtoseconds while maintaining Joule-level energy within the pulse At present, small-scale experimental tests of the method are demonstrating the conditions required to implement a full-scale test of the process. Such high energy, single-cycle pulses show promising production of secondary sources including hard X-ray pulses from solid targets with optimized conditions capable of producing atto/zeptosecond-scale pulses, as well as improvement in laser-driven ion acceleration.