The world”s highest gain high power laser amplifier – by many orders of magnitude – has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a ”gain” or amplification of more than eight orders of magnitude – which could be likened to amplifying the sound of rustling leaves to that of a jumbo jet – in only two mm of plasma.
They used 150 J pulses from the powerful Vulcan laser system at the Science and Technology Facilities Council”s Central Laser Facility (CLF). Over the course of two pioneering experiments at the CLF, the scientists worked closely with CLF staff to adapt the Vulcan laser in order that two different colour lasers could exchange energy in a plasma. The measured gain coefficient of 180 cm-1 is more than 100 times larger than achievable from existing high power laser system amplifiers based on solid-state media.