Plasma mirrors are devices capable of switching very high laser powers on subpicosecond time scales with a dynamic range of 20–30 dB. A detailed study of their performance in the near-field of the laser beam is presented, a setup relevant to improving the pulse contrast of modern ultrahigh power lasers ~TW–PW!. The conditions under which high reflectivity can be achieved and focusability of the reflected beam retained are identified. At higher intensities a region of high specular reflectivity with rapidly decreasing focusability was observed, suggesting that specular reflectivity alone is not an adequate guide to the ideal range of plasma mirror operation. It was found that to achieve high reflectivity with negligible phasefront distortion of the reflected beam the inequality csDt,lLaser must be met (cs : sound speed, Dt: time from plasma formation to the peak of the pulse!. The achievable contrast enhancement is given by the ratio of plasma mirror reflectivity to cold reflectivity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)