A plasma-electrode Pockels cell (PEPC) has been developed for use on the OMEGA extended performance (EP) laser system that can be used in a high-contrast optical switch, as required for isolation of the system from retroreflected pulses. Contrast ratios reliably exceeded 500:1 locally everywhere in the clear aperture. The key to achieving this improvement was the use of circular windows simply supported on compliant O rings, which is shown to produce very low stress-induced birefringence despite vacuum loading. Reliable operation was achieved operating at a relatively high operating pressure, low operating pressures being found to be strongly correlated to occurrences of local loss of plasma density.
© 2007 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: July 11, 2006
Revised Manuscript: October 31, 2006
Manuscript Accepted: November 3, 2006
Published: February 20, 2007
B. E. Kruschwitz, J. H. Kelly, M. J. Shoup, III, L. J. Waxer, E. C. Cost, E. T. Green, Z. M. Hoyt, J. Taniguchi, and T. W. Walker, "High-contrast plasma-electrode Pockels cell," Appl. Opt. 46, 1326-1332 (2007)