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Third harmonic order imaging as a focal spot diagnostic for high intensity laser-solid interactions

  • B. Dromey (a1), C. Bellei (a2), D.C. Carroll (a3), R.J. Clarke (a4), J.S. Green (a2), S. Kar (a1), S. Kneip (a2), K. Markey (a1), S.R. Nagel (a2), L. Willingale (a5), P. McKenna (a3), D. Neely (a4), Z. Najmudin (a2), K. Krushelnick (a5), P.A. Norreys (a4) and M. Zepf (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2009

As the state of the art for high power laser systems increases from terawatt to petawatt level and beyond, a crucial parameter for routinely monitoring high intensity performance is laser spot size on a solid target during an intense interaction in the tight focus regime (<10 µm). Here we present a novel, simple technique for characterizing the spatial profile of such a laser focal spot by imaging the interaction region in third harmonic order (3ωlaser). Nearly linear intensity dependence of 3ωlaser generation for interactions >1019 Wcm−2 is demonstrated experimentally and shown to provide the basis for an effective focus diagnostic. Importantly, this technique is also shown to allow in-situ diagnosis of focal spot quality achieved after reflection from a double plasma mirror setup for very intense high contrast interactions (>1020 Wcm−2) an important application for the field of high laser contrast interaction science.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Matthew Zepf, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Queens University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK. E-mail:
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Laser and Particle Beams
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