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Laser-plasma interaction experiments using high energy, high contrast OPCPA lasers

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Title: Laser-plasma interaction experiments using high energy, high contrast OPCPA lasers
Authors: Robinson, Timothy
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: A high-energy, high-contrast short-pulsed laser system using optical parametric chirped pulse amplification has been demonstrated as a platform for performing high intensity laser-matter interaction experiments. The existing Cerberus laser system at Imperial College was upgraded to include an improved stretcher system in its long-pulse OPCPA pump chain, and new optical parametric amplifier stages, including a high-energy single-shot stage, were designed, with the aim of achieving multi-terawatt power levels with optical parametric amplification alone once the upgrade is completed. A high-performance optical-limiter for protection of sensitive optical detectors was developed and characterized, and shown to provide orders of magnitude better performance than other systems reported in the literature. This setup was then modified for use as a supercontinuum light source, analyzed for its spectral stability properties, and shown to be stable in comparison to other supercontinuum sources reported in the literature. A laser pulse contrast diagnostic system incorporating the optical limiter into its architecture was designed, intended to allow measurement over high dynamic ranges and long timescales. An additional diagnostic for time-resolved absolute measurement of strong electromagnetic pulses from laser-plasma interactions using the linear electro-optic effect was demonstrated for the first time in the petawatt-regime. This system was tested at Vulcan Petawatt and shown to have favourable experimental noise characteristics in comparison to conventional EMP diagnostics. Furthermore, the electro-optic diagnostic was used to investigate the effects of target geometry on laser-driven EMP generation in the context of experiments with an ion-acceleration component.
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: Mar-2018
Date Awarded: May-2018
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/78813
DOI: https://doi.org/10.25560/78813
Copyright Statement: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license.
Supervisor: Smith, Roland
Hopps, Nicholas
Sponsor/Funder: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Atomic Weapons Establishment (Great Britain)
Funder's Grant Number: 1584149
Department: Physics
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Physics PhD theses