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Energy coupling in short pulse laser solid interactions and its impact for space debris removal

Neely, David and Allott, Ric and Bingham, Bob and Collier, John and Greenhalgh, Justin and Michaelis, Max and Phillips, Jonathan and Phipps, Claude R. and McKenna, Paul (2014) Energy coupling in short pulse laser solid interactions and its impact for space debris removal. Applied Optics, 53 (31). pp. 41-44. ISSN 1559-128X

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Significant advances have been made over the last decade to improve the performance, efficiency, and contrast of high peak and average power laser systems, driven by their use in a wide variety of fields, from the industrial to the scientific. As the contrast of the lasers has improved, interactions with contrasts of 1012 are now routinely undertaken. At such high contrasts, there is negligible preplasma formation and the ionized surface layer created by subpicosecond-duration pulses typically forms a highly reflective "plasma mirror" capable of reflecting between 70% and 90% of the incident energy. Although such interactions are of significant interest for applications such as harmonic source production and to enable the underlying physics to be studied, their low absorption can limit their usefulness for applications such as space debris removal.