Abstract

We describe in detail the operation of the gas-filled capillary discharge waveguide for high-intensity laser pulses and discuss measurements and magnetohydrodynamic simulations that show that the plasma channel produced is parabolic and essentially fully ionized. We present the results of experiments in which laser pulses with a peak input intensity of 1.2×1017 W cm-2 were guided through hydrogen-filled capillary discharges with lengths of 30 and 50 mm. The pulse energy coupling and transmission losses were determined to be <4% and (7±1) m-1, respectively. We discuss the application of waveguides of this type to driving short-wavelength lasers and laser wakefield accelerators.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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