Abstract

We demonstrate the use of a plasma mirror to obtain 60-fs 10-TW laser pulses with a temporal contrast of 10<sup>8</sup> on a nanosecond time scale and 10<sup>6</sup> on a picosecond time scale, and we use these high-contrast pulses to generate high harmonics by nonlinear reflection on a plasma with a steep electronic density gradient. Well-collimated harmonics up to 20th order are observed for a laser intensity of ≈3×10<sup>17</sup> W/cm<sup>2</sup>, whereas no harmonics are obtained without the plasma mirror.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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