Abstract

A new high-contrast, high-gain optical parametric chirped-pulse amplifier (OPCPA) architecture is demonstrated in periodically poled KTiOPO4 (PPKTP). This architecture overcomes parametric fluorescence contrast limitations of the OPCPA in periodically poled materials. The scheme is based on two passes of a single relay-imaged pump pulse and a free-propagating signal pulse through a 1.5mm×5mm×7.5mm PPKTP crystal. The output energy of 1.2mJ is generated at a center wavelength of 1053nm by 24mJ of pump energy. A prepulse contrast level of >3×107 was measured with >106 saturated gain in the amplifier. Amplified pulses were compressed to 200fs. This simple and versatile concept requires only a modest pump energy from a commercial pump laser and represents a possible high-contrast front end for high-energy Nd:glass-based petawatt-class lasers.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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