Fast Focusing Parabolic Mirror from Optical Surfaces Helps Vulcan Laser Achieve Interaction With Atomic Nuclei

 

Topics covered

Overview
The RAL Central Laser
Capability of the Vulcan Laser System
Future of Plasma Physics
About Optical Surfaces Ltd.

Overview

Optical Surfaces Ltd. has provided the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), Didcot, England, with a high precision, fast focusing On-axis Paraboloid of 255mm diameter for use in the short pulse beam of the ultra-high power Vulcan laser.

The RAL Central Laser

The RAL Central Laser facility maintains its position as one of the world's leading laser facilities through the development of state-of-the art high power lasers targeted towards understanding the fundamental interactions of laser light with matter in high electric fields.

Capability of the Vulcan Laser System

Drawing upon 30 years of design and manufacturing experience & benefiting from a stabilised manufacturing environment, Optical Surfaces were able to supply the required large diameter optic with a very short focal length (225 mm). To produce the best quality resultant wavefront Optical Surfaces were also required to produce the mirror with a surface accuracy of better than lambda/15 and surface smoothness of better than 10 Å. As a consequence the Vulcan laser system can produce power levels up to 100 TW in pulses of less than 1 ps into a spot measuring only a few microns in diameter.

Utilising the Paraboloid as the key focusing optic in the short pulse beam of the Vulcan laser, operating at a wavelength of 1053 nm, the group has developed a focused intensity in excess of 1019 W/ cm2 producing one of the first ever example of laser light interaction with atomic nuclei. Results from the system demonstrate the laser generation of different isotopes.

Future of Plasma Physics

The research group conducting the experiments is made up from a consortium of UK universities and their work is leading into exciting and previously uncharted area of plasma physics. In addition the new system has opened up the possibility of advances in applications including fusion energy production, x-ray laser probes and the possible next generation particle accelerators where the laser can generate up to four orders of magnitude higher intensity electric field than any existing magnetic accelerators today.

About Optical Surfaces Ltd.

Optical Surfaces Ltd, has been producing optical components and systems for more than 30 years and is now accepted as one of Europe's leading manufacturers of high-precision optics.

The main workshops and test facilities are deep underground in a series of tunnels excavated in solid chalk where temperature remains constant and vibration is practically non-existent.

With such stable conditions testing particularly with long path lengths become quantifiable and reliable. Working with these natural advantages is a highly skilled team of craftsmen with a commitment to excellence in both product quality and customer service.

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