X-Rays Driven by Single-Cycle, Petawatt Lasers: A Path to Exawatt Pulses
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The post-compression of high-energy Petawatt (PW) scale laser pulses offers the promise of maximizing the peak intensity deliverable by a given laser system for the amplified energy produced within the pulses. One recent proposal made by Mourou et al. relied upon the flat-top property of modern high-energy laser systems to suggest a solution utilizing self-phase modulation within a thin plastic film material to generate the bandwidth necessary to recompress to a shorter pulse duration through compensation with negative dispersion mirrors. The so-called thin film compressor (TFC) promised to offer an efficient and affordable method to boost the peak pulse achievable with existing facilities. Recent measurements including experiments done at the CETAL PW laser based at the National Institute for Lasers, Plasma, and Radiation Physics (INFLPR) in Magurele, Romania demonstrate the feasibility of the TFC configuration on a small-scale and encourage continued pursuit at increasing laser levels. The applications of such high energy, ultrashort pulses are already being considered in regard to particle acceleration and X-ray generation.
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