Chirped pulse raman amplifier



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All modern terawatt- and petawatt-class laser systems are based on the principle of chirped-pulse amplification (CPA). In this work, a compact subsystem that shifts a micro-joule portion of the chirped pulse energy to a new wavelength outside its original bandwidth, then amplifies it to millijoule energy without adding pump lasers, and without compromising the output of the fundamental CPA system in any significant way, has been developed and integrated into a standard terawatt-class CPA system. In this chirped pulse Raman amplifier sub-system, a 30 mJ portion of a chirped 800 nm fundamental pulse within the CPA system was split into two unequal portions, each of which impinged on a Raman-active barium nitrate, or Ba(NO3)2, crystal of length 5 cm. The weaker portion created a weak (15 J) first Stokes pulse (873 nm) by Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) in the first crystal, which then seeded a non-collinear four-wave-mixing process driven by the stronger portion of the split-off CPA pulse in the second crystal. The latter process amplified the first Stokes seed pulse to several millijoules with excellent beam quality. A study of Raman gain as a function of time delay between pump and Stokes pulse in the second crystal revealed a sharply peaked narrow interval ( 3 ps FWHM) of high gain and a wider interval ( 50 ps) of low gain. The amplified, chirped first Stokes pulse was successfully compressed to 100 fs duration using a grating pair of different line density than in the main CPA system, based on a comprehensive dispersion analysis of the optical path of the first Stokes pulse. The possibility of generating higher-order Stokes and anti-Stokes sidebands of the CPA pulse is also demonstrated. Further amplification of the sideband pulse by conventional methods, using an additional pump laser, appears straightforward. The chirped pulse Raman amplifier provides temporally synchronized fundamental and Raman sideband pulses for performing two-color, high-intensity laser experiments, some of which are briefly discussed. It can be integrated into any standard CPA system, and provides significant new versatility for high-intensity laser sources.