The femtosecond laser pulses reflected from the self-induced plasma mirror (PM) surface are characterized. More than two orders of magnitude improvement on intensity contrast both in nanosecond and picosecond temporal scales are measured. The far-field distribution, i.e., focusability, is measured to degrade in comparison with that without using a PM. Experiments on proton accelerations are performed to test the effect of the balance between degraded focusability and increased reflectivity. Our results show that PM is an effective and robust device to improve laser contrast for applications.
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