Abstract

To generate petawatt pulses using the Vulcan Nd:glass laser requires a broad bandwidth high-gain preamplifier. The preamplifier used is an optical parametric amplifier that provides a total gain of 108 in three amplification stages. We report on a detailed investigation of the effect of the Vulcan optical parametric chirped pulse amplification (OPCPA) preamplifier on contrast caused by the amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) pedestal that extends up to 2 ns before the arrival of the main pulse. The contrast after compression is improved to 4×108 of the intensity of the main pulse using near-field apertures between the stages of the OPCPA preamplifier. Further reduction of the level of the ASE pedestal can be achieved at the cost of a reduction in amplified bandwidth by solely phosphate glass amplification after initial preamplification rather than a mixed glass amplification scheme.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

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