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Optimization of plasma amplifiers

Sadler, James D. and Trines, Raoul M. G. M. and Tabak, Max and Haberberger, Dan and Froula, Dustin H. and Davies, Andrew S. and Bucht, Sara and Silva, Luís O. and Alves, E. Paulo and Fiúza, Frederico and Ceurvorst, Luke and Ratan, Naren and Kasim, Muhammad F. and Bingham, Robert and Norreys, Peter A. (2017) Optimization of plasma amplifiers. Physical Review E, 95 (5). ISSN 1539-3755

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Plasma amplifiers offer a route to side-step limitations on chirped pulse amplification and generate laser pulses at the power frontier. They compress long pulses by transferring energy to a shorter pulse via the Raman or Brillouin instabilities. We present an extensive kinetic numerical study of the three-dimensional parameter space for the Raman case. Further particle-in-cell simulations find the optimal seed pulse parameters for experimentally relevant constraints. The high-efficiency self-similar behavior is observed only for seeds shorter than the linear Raman growth time. A test case similar to an upcoming experiment at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics is found to maintain good transverse coherence and high-energy efficiency. Effective compression of a 10 kJ , nanosecond-long driver pulse is also demonstrated in a 15-cm-long amplifier.