A high-contrast preamplifier based on optical-parametric amplification with a short pump pulse is demonstrated. A gain larger than and measurement-limited contrast higher than are obtained over a large temporal range extending within less than of the peak of the pulse, because of the high instantaneous parametric gain provided by a short pump pulse in a nonlinear crystal. The energy gain and high contrast of this preamplifier make it a good seed source for high-power laser systems.
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