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Giant reference mirror ready for ELI beam expanders

12 Jul 2017

600 mm-diameter flat optic from Optical Surfaces will feature in €60M Thales laser system at Romanian facility.

UK-based component maker Optical Surfaces says it has now produced a 600 mm diameter mounted reference flat mirror that will enable Thales to align beam expanders in the giant laser system being built for the Romanian element of Europe's Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project.

The silver-coated, two-axis, gimbal-mounted reference flat is said to have a surface accuracy better than 20 nm (rms), and a surface quality of 40/20 scratch/dig to minimize scattering effects.

Smaller spot sizes
The optical system will produce a precisely expanded laser beam to enable smaller laser spot sizes when used in combination with additional focusing optics, states the firm.

The Extreme Light Infrastructure for Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) facility under construction in Magurele represents the third of the enormous “pillars” of the wider ELI project, all of which are based around huge lasers with unprecedented power, brightness and repetition rate characteristics.

Once completed, ELI-NP will feature the most powerful laser system ever built: a 2x10 PW design. And Optical Surfaces points out that the €60 million contract awarded to Thales to produce it is the largest contract award by a national research institute under a European-funded program.

The other two ELI “pillars” – constructed in the Czech Republic and Hungary – are at a more advanced stage, with the various systems at ELI Beamlines near Prague and ELI-ALPS in Szeged set to open to users partially in 2018, ahead of full operation at Szeged in 2020.

High-level delegations
In late May ELI-ALPS, home to an attosecond pulse laser system that will give scientists from a variety of fields completely new ways to investigate ultrafast physical phenomena, was officially inaugurated.

The event featured speeches from the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and attosecond science pioneer Ferenc Krausz, director of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics near Munich.

The three ELI pillars also shared an exhibition booth at last month’s LASER World of Photonics trade show, with the project’s leaders welcoming more dignitaries – this time in the form of Lithuanian economy minister Mindaugas Sinkevicius and Algis Piskarskas, president of the Lithuanian Laser Association.

Lithuanian company Ekspla is one of the key laser providers involved the ELI-ALPS project, and the country’s representatives were in Munich partly to discuss the possibility of Lithuania becoming a founding member of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) dedicated to ELI.

Meanwhile ELI Beamlines officials recently welcomed Ofir Akunis, Israel’s minister of science, technology and space, to discuss future Czech-Israeli cooperation within the ELI and HiLASE projects.

As with ELI-ALPS, user operations at the Beamlines facility are slated to begin in 2018 on the “L1” laser, one of four optical systems. L1 is aimed at materials and biomolecular applications, and is designed to produce 100 mJ pulses of less than 20 fs duration, at a repetition rate of 1 kHz.

The optical parametric chirped pulse amplifier (OPCPA) chain features seven amplifier stages, and is pumped by a state-of-the-art thin-disk Yb:YAG laser system designed in-house by the ELI Beamlines team.

The L2 and L3 lasers at the Czech facility will offer petawatt-scale pulse powers at unprecedented repetition rates of 10 Hz, while the L4 beam will scale to 10 PW pulses delivering 2 kJ of energy in 130 fs pulses at a rate of approximately one pulse per minute.

First Light ImagingTRIOPTICS GmbHBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationUniverse Kogaku America Inc.LASEROPTIK GmbHLaCroix Precision OpticsMad City Labs, Inc.
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