Ultrafast Plasma Optics for High-Power Coherent Light Sources

Matthew Edwards | 20-ERD-057

Project Overview

The development of lasers and laser-like sources of radiation with extreme properties in intensity, wavelength, and pulse duration promises advances in both applied and fundamental physics, including table-sized particle accelerators and synchrotrons, the production of dense matter-antimatter plasmas, radiation-based probes of high-energy-density states of matter, and tests of vacuum breakdown and quantum electrodynamics. Laser-plasma interactions uniquely allow the generation of high-intensity radiation, and several different mechanisms are promising for developing high-intensity light sources. We have studied relativistic high-order harmonic generation from overdense plasma surfaces, wave-mixing and parametric amplification in underdense plasma, and diffractive plasma optics using a combination of experiment, large-scale simulations, and simple analytic models, aiming to understand the most promising paths towards high-efficiency plasma-based optics. As a result of this project, we have demonstrated sufficient control over wave mixing in a plasma to dramatically change the group velocity of light, produced a theory for relativistic high-order harmonic generation that predicts observed spectra, designed diffractive plasma optics for focusing and compressing high-power laser pulses, and experimentally demonstrated efficient plasma gratings, showing a possible path to the construction of a compact ultra-high-power laser system. The approaches that we have developed here can both enhance the capabilities of existing LLNL laser systems and enable the construction of fundamentally new and higher-capability lasers and radiation sources.

Mission Impact

This project has advanced LLNL's capabilities in plasma optics, maintaining the laboratory's leadership position in the development of high-power lasers and radiation-based diagnostics and developing science and technology tools and capabilities to meet future national-security challenges. New LLNL projects arising from this work directly address problems in inertial fusion energy and aim to enhance the intensity available from LLNL's high-power-laser systems, with potential impacts on address DOE's energy and environmental security missions. This project has also produced ongoing collaborations between LLNL and Princeton and Stanford universities, providing a pathway for recruiting new highly trained scientists to LLNL.

Publications, Presentations, and Patents

Edwards, M. R., and P. Michel. 2022. "Plasma Transmission Gratings for Compression of High-Intensity Laser Pulses." Physical Review Applied 18, 024026 (2022)doi: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.18.024026.

Edwards, M. R., et al. 2022. "Holographic Plasma Lenses." Physical Review Letters 128, 065003 (2022); doi:https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.128.065003.

Goyon, C., et al. 2021. "Slow and Fast Light in Plasma Using Optical Wave Mixing." Physical Review Letters 126, 205001 (2022); doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.126.2050001.

Edwards, M. R., et al. 2021. "Laser-DrivenPlasma Sources of Intense, Ultrafast, and Coherent Radiation." Physics of Plasmas 28, 013105 (2021); doi:10.1063/5.0031459.

Edwards, M. R., et al. 2020. "A Multi-Terawatt Two-Color Beam for High-Power Field-Controlled Nonlinear Optics." Optics Letters 45, 23, 6542-6545 (2020); doi: 10.1364/OL.403806.

Edwards, M. R., et al. 2020. "Electron-Nanobunch-Width-Dominated Spectral Power Law for Relativistic Harmonic Generation from Ultra-Thin Foils." Physical Review Letters 124, 185004 (2020); doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.124.185004.

Edwards, M. R., et al. 2020. "Cascaded Plasma Mirrors for Enhanced Relativistic Harmonic Generation." Presentation, CLEO: Fundamental Science, San Jose, CA. May 2020.

Edwards, M. R., et al. 2021. "Measuring the Optical Properties of Ionization Gratings in Air for Control of Femtosecond Lasers." Presentation, CLEO: Fundamental Science. San Jose, CA. May 2021.

Edwards, M. R. 2020. "First Observation of Slow and Fast Light in Plasma." Presentation, 2020 NIF and JLF User Group Meeting, Livermore, CA. February 2020.

Edwards, M. R., et al. 2020. "High-intensity Bragg Reflection of a Femtosecond Laser via Ionized Structures in Air." Presentation, 62nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics. Virtual. November 2020.

Edwards, M. R., et al. 2021. "Diffractive Plasma Optics for Control of High-Power Femtosecond Beams." Presentation, 47th EPS Conference on Plasma Physics. Virtual. June 2021.

Edwards, M. R., et al. 2021. "Focusing High-Power Laser Pulses with Diffractive Plasma Lenses." Presentation, 63rd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics. Pittsburgh, PA. November 2021.

Edwards, M. R. "Diffractive Plasma Optics for High-Power Lasers." Presentation, 50th Anomalous Absorption Conference, Skytop, PA. June 2022.

Edwards, M. R. "Diffractive Plasma Optics via Ionization for the Generation and Control of HighPower Laser Pulses." 64th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics, Spokane, WA. October 2022.

Edwards, M. R. and P. Michel. ROI: IL-13624 "Holographic Plasma Lenses."

Edwards, M. R. and P. Michel. ROI: IL-13658 "Plasma Transmission Gratings for High-Intensity Laser Pulse Compression."

Edwards, M. R. and P. Michel. ROI: IL-13730 "Gas and Plasma Final Optics for Inertial Fusion Energy Lasers."

Edwards, M. R. and P. Michel. ROI: IL-13744 "Temporal Contrast Improvement for Short Pulse Lasers via Ionization Gratings."