Grating pulse compressors are an integral part of chirped pulse amplification (CPA) lasers.1 Accurate alignment of the compressor is required to obtain minimum pulse-width at the output of the system. Dual grating compressors are difficult to align because they don’t function unless they are close to optimum alignment. The procedure outlined here provides a simple step-wise method of aligning a dual grating pulse compressor so that the gratings will be parallel with one another. Once this condition has been established, only the distance between the gratings needs to be adjusted to start the system operating. At this point, the compressor can be critically aligned.
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