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Proceedings Paper

Neodymium Glass Lasers - A Status Report
Author(s): J. M. McMahon
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Paper Abstract

Progress on high peak power short pulse glass lasers has been rapid. Prospects for reaching the 1013 - 1014 watt level required for laser fusion appear reasonable. Progress in the control of the onset self-focusing effects offers the hope of the realization in the near future of laser systems which operate at output intensities of P.-1 30 GW/cm4 at overall efficiencies approaching 0.1%. Very high peak power lasers are needed forlaser fusion compared to what exists at present. Present solid state and gas laser systems operate with well controlled beams at power levels of 1011 - 1012 watts per beam. Laser fusion has been estimated to require the symmetric irradiation of targets by pulses of 1013 - 1014 watts for a breakeven experiment(l). Even higher laser powers may be required for a fusion reactor, but here the real problem will be that high high efficiency is also necessary. A first reaction to the gap between present technology and the peak power requirement might be to dismiss the idea out of hand, as simply too difficult to achieve especially when other projected require-ment on a breakeven experiment such as a precise pulse shape and very uniform illumination are considered. This is too simplistic an attitude. The benefits of fusion power if it can be harnessed are so enormous that the question of whether such lasers can be built deserves the closest and most intensive study. This is likely to be money well spent as high peak power lasers will have many other uses even if fusion proves impractical by this route. Examples of this exist now; experiments at NRL on laser and electron beam targets have provided a wealth of atomic physics data on the spectra of highly ionized atoms. These "laboratory astrophysics" experiments are being used to analyze the solar flare data obtained from the Skylab space station.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 February 1976
PDF: 4 pages
Proc. SPIE 0061, Optical Methods in Energy Conversion, (10 February 1976); doi: 10.1117/12.954405
Show Author Affiliations
J. M. McMahon, Naval Research Laboratory (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0061:
Optical Methods in Energy Conversion
M. J. Lubin, Editor(s)

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