We report on the first demonstration of a diode-pumped, gas cooled, cryogenic multislab Yb:YAG amplifier. The performance was characterized over a temperature range from 88 to 175 K. A maximum small-signal single-pass longitudinal gain of 11.0 was measured at 88 K. When amplifying nanosecond pulses, recorded output energies were 10.1 J at 1 Hz in a four-pass extraction geometry and 6.4 J at 10 Hz in a three-pass setup, corresponding to optical to optical conversion efficiencies of 21% and 16%, respectively. To our knowledge, this represents the highest pulse energy so far obtained from a cryo-cooled Yb-laser and the highest efficiency from a multijoule diode pumped solid-state laser system.
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