Abstract

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

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