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Proceedings Paper

Plasma electrode Pockels cell for the National Ignition Facility
Author(s): Mark A. Rhodes; Scott N. Fochs; Peter J. Biltoft; Terry W. Alger; Bill Funkhouser; Charles D. Boley
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Paper Abstract

The NIF, now under construction at LLNL, will be the largest laser fusion facility ever built. The NIF laser architecture is based on a multi-pass power amplifier to reduce cost and maximize performance. A key component in this laser design is an optical switch that closes to trap the optical pulse in the cavity for four gain passes and then opens to divert the optical pulse out of the amplifier cavity. The switch is comprised of a Pockels cell and a polarizer and is unique because it handles a beam that is 40 cm X 40 cm square and allows close horizontal and vertical beam spacing. Conventional Pockels cells do not scale to such large apertures or the square shape required for close packing. Our switch is based on a Plasma-Electrode Pockels Cell (PEPC). In a PEPC, low-pressure helium discharges are formed on both sides of a thin slab of electro-optic material. Typically, we use KH2PO4 crystals (KDP). The discharges form highly conductive, transparent sheets that allow uniform application of a high-voltage pulse across the crystal. A 37 cm X 37 cm PEPC has been in routine operation for two years on the 6 kJ Beamlet laser at LLNL. For the NIF, a module four apertures high by one wide is required. However, this 4 X 1 mechanical module will be comprised electrically of a pair of 2 X 1 sub-modules. Last year, we demonstrated full operation of a prototype 2 X 1 PEPC. In this PEPC, the plasma spans two KDP crystals. A major advance in the 2 X 1 PEPC over the Beamlet PEPC is the use of anodized aluminum construction that still provides sufficient insulation to allow formation of the planar plasmas. In this paper, we discuss full 4 X 1 NIF prototypes.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 July 1999
PDF: 4 pages
Proc. SPIE 3492, Third International Conference on Solid State Lasers for Application to Inertial Confinement Fusion, (23 July 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.354225
Show Author Affiliations
Mark A. Rhodes, Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (United States)
Scott N. Fochs, Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (United States)
Peter J. Biltoft, Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (United States)
Terry W. Alger, Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (United States)
Bill Funkhouser, Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (United States)
Charles D. Boley, Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3492:
Third International Conference on Solid State Lasers for Application to Inertial Confinement Fusion

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