Abstract

Extreme optical fluences, much beyond the damage threshold of conventional optics, are of interest for a range of high-energy-density physics applications. Nonlinear interactions of multiple beams in plasmas have the potential to produce optics that operate at much higher intensity and fluence than is possible in solids. In inertial confinement fusion experiments indirectly driven with lasers, many beams overlap in the plasma inside a hohlraum, and cross-beam energy transfer by Brillouin scattering has been employed to redistribute energy between laser beams within the target. Here, we show that in a hot, under-dense plasma the energy of many input beams can be combined into a single well-collimated beam. The emerging beam has an energy of 4 kJ (over 1 ns) that is more than triple that of any incident beam, and a fluence that is more than double. Because the optic produced is plasma, and is diffractive, it is inherently capable of generating higher fluences in a single beam than solid-state refractive or reflective optics.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are indebted to the staff of the NIF laser facility for carrying out these experiments and insuring that a large number of detailed requirements of the experiments were met, as well as to B. Wallin and K. Budil for their encouragement of this work. R.K.K. gratefully acknowledges the contributions of R. L. Berger in performing the kinetic calculations of the parameters in used in equation (1), and the help of M. M. Marinak in carrying out the Hydra simulations shown in Fig. 4.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California 94551, USA

    • R. K. Kirkwood
    • , D. P. Turnbull
    • , T. Chapman
    • , S. C. Wilks
    • , M. D. Rosen
    • , R. A. London
    • , L. A. Pickworth
    • , W. H. Dunlop
    • , J. D. Moody
    • , D. J. Strozzi
    • , P. A. Michel
    • , L. Divol
    • , O. L. Landen
    • , B. J. MacGowan
    • , B. M. Van Wonterghem
    • , K. B. Fournier
    •  & B. E. Blue
  2. Laboratory of Laser Energetics, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14623, USA

    • D. P. Turnbull

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Contributions

The concept for the beam combiner design we describe was formulated and its design carried out by R.K.K., R.A.L., S.C.W., K.B.F., D.P.T. and W.H.D. The development of the technique to measure the transmitted beam properties was done by R.K.K., D.P.T., L.A.P., O.L.L., J.D.M. and M.D.R. The final phase of implementation and integration with the NIF laser facility was carried out by R.K.K., S.C.W., D.P.T., L.A.P., T.C., L.D., P.A.M., J.D.M., O.L.L., D.J.S., B.J.M., B.M.V.W. and B.E.B., which included assessments of likely output beam performance for its impact on the facility and optimally integrating the experimental requirements with other facility demands. Actual execution of experiments was carried out by D.P.T., R.K.K. and L.A.P. Post experimental pF3D simulations were carried out by T.C., L.D. and P.A.M., and final revisions of the manuscript were considered by all authors.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to R. K. Kirkwood.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys4271