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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 34, Iss. 24 — Aug. 20, 1995
  • pp: 5312–5325

Performance of large-aperture optical switches for high-energy inertial-confinement fusion lasers

Mark A. Rhodes, B. Woods, J. J. DeYoreo, D. Roberts, and L. J. Atherton  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 34, Issue 24, pp. 5312-5325 (1995)

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We describe the design and performance of large-aperture (>30 cm × 30 cm) optical switches that have demonstrated, for the first time to our knowledge, active switching of a high-energy (>5 kJ) optical pulse in an inertial-confinement fusion laser. These optical switches, which consist of a plasma-electrode Pockels cell (PEPC) and a passive polarizer, permit the design of efficient, multipass laser amplifiers. In a PEPC, plasma discharges on the faces of a thin (1-cm) electro-optic crystal (KDP or KD*P) act as highly conductive and transparent electrodes. These plasma electrodes facilitate rapid (<100 ns) and uniform charging of the crystal to the half-wave voltage and discharging back to 0 V. We discuss the operating principles, design, optical performance, and technical issues of a 32 cm × 32 cm prototype PEPC with both KDP and KD*P crystals, and a 37 cm × 37 cm PEPC with a KDP crystal for the Beamlet laser. This PEPC recently switched a 6-kJ, 3-ns pulse in a four-pass cavity.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

Original Manuscript: November 8, 1994
Revised Manuscript: February 28, 1995
Published: August 20, 1995

Mark A. Rhodes, B. Woods, J. J. DeYoreo, D. Roberts, and L. J. Atherton, "Performance of large-aperture optical switches for high-energy inertial-confinement fusion lasers," Appl. Opt. 34, 5312-5325 (1995)

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