Chirped pulse Raman amplification in warm plasma : towards controlling saturation

Yang, X. and Vieux, G. and Brunetti, E. and Ersfeld, B. and Farmer, J. P. and Hur, M. S. and Issac, R. C. and Raj, G. and Wiggins, S. M. and Welsh, G. H. and Yoffe, S. R. and Jaroszynski, D. A. (2015) Chirped pulse Raman amplification in warm plasma : towards controlling saturation. Scientific Reports, 5. 13333. ISSN 2045-2322 (

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Stimulated Raman backscattering in plasma is potentially an efficient method of amplifying laser pulses to reach exawatt powers because plasma is fully broken down and withstands extremely high electric fields. Plasma also has unique nonlinear optical properties that allow simultaneous compression of optical pulses to ultra-short durations. However, current measured efficiencies are limited to several percent. Here we investigate Raman amplification of short duration seed pulses with different chirp rates using a chirped pump pulse in a preformed plasma waveguide. We identify electron trapping and wavebreaking as the main saturation mechanisms, which lead to spectral broadening and gain saturation when the seed reaches several millijoules for durations of 10’s – 100’s fs for 250 ps, 800 nm chirped pump pulses. We show that this prevents access to the nonlinear regime and limits the efficiency, and interpret the experimental results using slowly-varying-amplitude, current-averaged particle-in-cell simulations. We also propose methods for achieving higher efficiencies.