Few-cyle laser pulses (~5 fs) with powers up to 100 GW have been demonstrated in recent years in a number of laboratories around the world. These pulses have been widely used for time-resolved experiments on the electronic properties of atoms and molecules. On the other hand, laser powers of up to one petawatt (10^15 W) have been realised for much longer pulses of tens to hundreds of femtoseconds, and these pulses were widely used in laser-plasma interaction physics. For instance, the acceleration of electrons to multi-MeV energies in a monoenergetic bunch has recently been demonstrated with such lasers.
The current explanation for the responsible acceleration mechanism would predict a high gain in efficiency and stability if the process could be driven by shorter, few-cycle pulses. This would open the possibility of constructing a cheap, compact, femtosecond time-scale electron accelerator and Thompson X-ray source. Therefore, the goal of this project is the development of a multi-terawatt, few-cycle laser system based on the optical parametric chirped pulse amplification (OPCPA) concept, which allows the amplification of very broadband optical pulses. This system will act as a proof-of-principle for a future, PW-scale few-cycle system. In contrast to existing OPCPA approaches, we plan to use short (100fs-1ps) pump pulses from an existing Ti:sapphire CPA laser system to facilitate compression after amplification and to increase the amplification bandwidth through the use of thinner OPCPA crystals. After this system will be completed, we propose to use it for further experiments into ultra-short electron bunch and X-ray generation.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/physical sciences/optics/laser physics
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