Peer-Review Publications


B. Dromey, S. Rykovanov, M. Yeung, R. Hörlein, D. Jung, D. C. Gautier, T. Dzelzainis, D. Kiefer, S. Palaniyppan, R. Shah, J. Schreiber, H. Ruhl, J. C. Fernandez, C. L. S. Lewis, M. Zepf, and B. M. Hegelich
Coherent synchrotron emission from electron nanobunches formed in relativistic laser-plasma interactions
Nat. Phys., 8 :804 (November 2012)
Extreme ultraviolet (XUV) and X-ray harmonic spectra produced by intense laser - solid interactions have, so far, been consistent with Doppler upshifted reflection from collective relativistic plasma oscillations - the relativistically oscillating mirror mechanism. Recent theoretical work, however, has identified a new interaction regime in which dense electron nanobunches are formed at the plasma–vacuum boundary resulting in coherent XUV radiation by coherent synchrotron emission (CSE). Our experiments enable the isolation of CSE from competing processes, demonstrating that electron nanobunch formation does indeed occur. We observe spectra with the characteristic spectral signature of CSE - a slow decay of intensity, I, with high-harmonic order, n, as I(n) ~ n^(−1.62) before a rapid efficiency rollover. Particle-in-cell code simulations reveal how den se nanobunches of electrons are periodically formed and accelerated during normal-incidence interactions with ultrathin foils and result in CSE in the transmitted direction. This observation of CSE presents a route to high-energy XUV pulses and offers a new window on understanding ultrafast energy coupling during intense laser - solid density interactions.
E. Siminos, M. Grech, S. Skupin, T. Schlegel, and V. T. Tikhonchuk
Effect of electron heating on self-induced transparency in relativistic-intensity laser-plasma interactions
Phys. Rev. E, 86 :056404 (November 2012)
The effective increase of the critical density associated with the interaction of relativistically intense laser pulses with overcritical plasmas, known as self-induced transparency, is revisited for the case of circular polarization. A comparison of particle-in-cell simulations to the predictions of a relativistic cold-fluid model for the transparency threshold demonstrates that kinetic effects, such as electron heating, can lead to a substantial increase of the effective critical density compared to cold-fluid theory. These results are interpreted by a study of separatrices in the single-electron phase space corresponding to dynamics in the stationary fields predicted by the cold-fluid model. It is shown that perturbations due to electron heating exceeding a certain finite threshold can force electrons to escape into the vacuum, leading to laser pulse propagation. The modification of the transparency threshold is linked to the temporal pulse profile, through its effect on electron heating.
B. Ecker, E. Oliva, B. Aurand, D. C. Hochhaus, P. Neumayer, H. Zhao, B. Zielbauer, K. Cassou, S. Daboussi, O. Guilbaud, S. Kazamias, T. T. T. Le, D. Ros, P. Zeitoun, and T. Kühl
Gain lifetime measurement of a Ni-like Ag soft X-ray laser
Opt. Express, 20 :25391 (November 2012)
Experimental results of a two-stage Ni-like Ag soft X-ray laser operated in a seed-amplifier configuration are presented. Both targets were pumped applying the double-pulse grazing incidence technique with intrinsic travelling wave excitation. The injection of the seed X-ray laser into the amplifier target was realized by a spherical mirror. The results show amplification of the seed X-ray laser and allow for a direct measurement of the gain lifetime. The experimental configuration is suitable for providing valuable input for computational simulations.
F. Jansen, F. Stutzki, C. Jauregui, J. Limpert, and A. Tünnermann
High-power very large mode-area thulium-doped fiber laser
Opt. Lett., 37 :4546 (November 2012)
Large-pitch photonic-crystal fibers have demonstrated their unique capability of combining very large mode areas, high output powers and robust single-mode operation at a wavelength of 1 μm. In this Letter, we present the experimental realization of thulium-doped very large mode-area fibers based on the large-pitch fibers with record mode-field diameters exceeding 60 μm and delivering more than 52 W of output power.
S. Hädrich, J. Rothhardt, M. Krebs, S. Demmler, J. Limpert, and A. Tünnermann
Improving carrier-envelope phase stability in optical parametric chirped-pulse amplifiers by control of timing jitter
Opt. Lett., 37 :4910 (November 2012)
It is shown that timing jitter in optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification induces spectral drifts that transfer to carrier-envelope phase (CEP) instabilities via dispersion. Reduction of this effect requires temporal synchronization, which is realized with feedback obtained from the angularly dispersed idler. Furthermore, a novel method to measure the CEP drifts by utilizing parasitic second harmonic generation within parametric amplifiers is presented. Stabilization of the timing allows the obtainment of a CEP stability of 86 mrad over 40 min at 150 kHz repetition rate.
S. Kar, K. F. Kakolee, B. Qiao, A. Macchi, M. Cerchez, D. Doria, M. Geissler, P. McKenna, D. Neely, J. Osterholz, R. Prasad, K. Quinn, B. Ramakrishna, G. Sarri, O. Willi, X. Y. Yuan, M. Zepf, and M. Borghesi
Ion Acceleration in Multispecies Targets Driven by Intense Laser Radiation Pressure
Phys. Rev. Lett., 109 :185006 (November 2012)
The acceleration of ions from ultrathin foils has been investigated by using 250 TW, subpicosecond laser pulses, focused to intensities of up to 3 × 10^(20)  W cm^(-2). The ion spectra show the appearance of narrow-band features for protons and carbon ions peaked at higher energies (in the 5 - 10  MeV/nucleon range) and with significantly higher flux than previously reported. The spectral features and their scaling with laser and target parameters provide evidence of a multispecies scenario of radiation pressure acceleration in the light sail mode, as confirmed by analytical estimates and 2D particle-in-cell simulations. The scaling indicates that monoenergetic peaks with more than 100  MeV/nucleon are obtainable with moderate improvements of the target and laser characteristics, which are within reach of ongoing technical developments.
R. Lötzsch, O. Jäckel, S. Höfer, T. Kämpfer, J. Polz, I. Uschmann, M.C. Kaluza, E. Förster, E. Stambulchik, E. Kroupp, and Y. Maron
K-shell spectroscopy of silicon ions as diagnostic for high electric fields
Rev. Sci. Instrum., 83 :113507 (November 2012)
We developed a detection scheme, capable of measuring X-ray line shape of tracer ions in μm thick layers at the rear side of a target foil irradiated by ultra intense laser pulses. We performed simulations of the effect of strong electric fields on the K-shell emission of silicon and developed a spectrometer dedicated to record this emission. The combination of a cylindrically bent crystal in von Hámos geometry and a CCD camera with its single photon counting capability allows for a high dynamic range of the instrument and background free spectra. This approach will be used in future experiments to study electric fields of the order of TV/m at high density plasmas close to solid density.
C. Jocher, T. Eidam, S. Hädrich, J. Limpert, and A. Tünnermann
Sub 25 fs pulses from solid-core nonlinear compression stage at 250 W of average power
Opt. Lett., 37 :4407 (November 2012)
We report on a highpower femtosecond fiber chirped-pulse amplification system with an excellent beam quality (M^2 = 1.2) operating at 250 MHz repetition rate. We demonstrate nonlinear compression in a solid-core photonic crystal fiber at unprecedented average power levels. By exploiting self-phase modulation with subsequent chirped-mirror compression we achieve pulse shortening by more than one order of magnitude to 23 fs pulses. The use of circular polarization allows higher than usual peak powers in the broadening fiber resulting in compressed 0.9 μJ pulse energy and a peak power of 34 MW at 250 W of average power (M^2 = 1.3). This system is well suited for driving cavity-enhanced high-repetition rate high-harmonic generation.
S. Demmler, J. Rothhardt, S. Hädrich, J. Bromage, J. Limpert, and A. Tünnermann
Control of nonlinear spectral phase induced by ultra-broadband optical parametric amplification
Opt. Lett., 37 :3933 (October 2012)
Optical parametric amplifiers (OPAs) impose an optical parametric phase (OPP) onto the amplified signal. It manifests itself as a spectral phase in the case of broadband signals and, therefore, hampers pulse compression. Here we present, for the first time, a complete experimental characterization of this OPP for different ultra-broadband noncollinear OPA configurations. This measurement allows us to compensate the OPP and to achieve Fourier-limited pulses as short as 1.9 optical cycles. A numerical model is in excellent agreement with our measurements and reveals the importance of high order phase compensation in the case of noncollinear phase matching. In contrast, operation at degeneracy enables almost complete compensation of the OPP by second-order dispersion only.
C. Jauregui, A. Steinmetz, J. Limpert, and A. Tünnermann
High-power efficient generation of visible and mid-infrared radiation exploiting four-wave-mixing in optical fibers
Opt. Express, 20 :24957 (October 2012)
We report on the generation of 17.6 W of visible radiation at 650 nm using four-wave-mixing in an endlessly single-mode silica fiber. The conversion efficiency was as high as ~ 30%. This high efficiency could be obtained by exploiting the natural absorption of silica for the mid-infrared radiation > 2.5µm. In a separate experiment 1.6 W of mid-IR radiation at 2570 nm were generated simultaneously with 14.4 W at 672 nm. These power levels of picosecond red radiation are among the highest reported so far for a diffraction limited beam quality in this wavelength region.
T. Kiefer, and T. Schlegel
Implications for the electron distribution from the stationary hydrodynamic model of a one-dimensional plasma expansion into vacuum
Phys. Plasmas, 19 :102101 (October 2012)
It is shown that the hydrodynamic model of a one-dimensional collisionless plasma expansion is contained in the kinetic description as a special case. This belongs to a specific choice for the electron distribution function. Moreover, the consequences of the use of the hydrodynamic approach regarding the temporal evolution of the electron phase space density are investigated. It turns out that only the case of a hydrodynamic description with the adiabatic constant κ = 3 is physically self-consistent. Numerical simulations confirm this argumentation. The analysis for the case κ = 3 is extended to the kinetics of a relativistic electron gas.
M. Zürch, C. Kern, P. Hansinger, A. Dreischuh, and C. Spielmann
Strong-field physics with singular light beams
Nat. Phys., 8 :743 (October 2012)
Light beams carrying a point singularity with a screw-type phase distribution are associated with an optical vortex. The corresponding momentum flow leads to an orbital angular momentum of the photons. The study of optical vortices has led to applications such as particle micro-manipulation, imaging, interferometry, quantum information and high-resolution microscopy and lithography. Recent analyses showed that transitions forbidden by selection rules seem to be allowed when using optical vortex beams. To exploit these intriguing new applications, it is often necessary to shorten the wavelength by nonlinear frequency conversion. However, during the conversion the optical vortices tend to break up. Here we show that optical vortices can be generated in the extreme ultraviolet (XUV) region using high-harmonic generation. The singularity impressed on the fundamental beam survives the highly nonlinear process. Vortices in the XUV region have the same phase distribution as the driving field, which is in contradiction to previous findings, where multiplication of the momentum by the harmonic order is expected. This approach opens the way for several applications based on vortex beams in the XUV region.
M. Kübel, K. J. Betsch, N. Johnson, U. Kleineberg, R. Moshammer, J. Ullrich, G.G. Paulus, M. F. Kling, and B. Bergues
Carrier-envelope-phase tagging in measurements with long acquisition times
New J. Phys., 14 :093027 (September 2012)
We present a detailed analysis of the systematic errors that affect single-shot carrier envelope phase (CEP) measurements in experiments with long acquisition times, for which only limited long-term laser stability can be achieved. After introducing a scheme for eliminating these systematic errors to a large extent, we apply our approach to investigate the CEP dependence of the yield of doubly charged ions produced via non-sequential double ionization of argon in strong near-single-cycle laser pulses. The experimental results are compared to predictions of semiclassical calculations.
V. Yerokhin, A. Surzhykov, R. Märtin, S. Tashenov, and G. Weber
Comparative study of the electron-atom and positron-atom bremsstrahlung
Phys. Rev. A, 86 :032708 (September 2012)
Fully relativistic treatment of the electron-atom and positron-atom bremsstrahlung is reported. The calculation is based on the partial-wave expansion of the Dirac scattering states in an external atomic field. A comparison of the electron and positron bremsstrahlung is presented for the single and double differential cross sections and the Stokes parameters of the emitted photon. It is demonstrated that the electron-positron symmetry of the bremsstrahlung spectra, which is nearly exact in the nonrelativistic regime, is to a large extent removed by the relativistic effects.
U. Zastrau, C. R. D. Brown, T. Döppner, S. H. Glenzer, G. Gregori, H. J. Lee, H. Marschner, S. Toleikis, O. Wehrhan, and E. Förster
Focal aberrations of large-aperture HOPG von-Hamos x-ray spectrometers
J. Instrum., 7 :P09015 (September 2012)
Focal aberrations of large-aperture highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) crystals in von-Hàmos geometry are investigated by experimental and computational methods. A mosaic HOPG crystal film of 100 μm thickness diffracts 8 keV x-rays. This thickness is smaller than the absorption depth of the symmetric 004-reflection, which amounts to 257 μm. Cylindrically bent crystals with 110 mm radius of curvature and up to 100 mm collection width produce a X-shaped halo around the focus. This feature vanishes when the collection aperture is reduced, but axial spectral profiles show that the resolution is not affected. X-ray topography reveals significant inhomogeneous crystallite domains of 2 ± 1 mm diameter along the entire crystal. Rocking curves shift by about ±20 arcmin between domains, while their full width at half-maximum varies between 30 and 50 arcmin. These inhomogeneities are not imprinted at the focal spot, since the monochromatically reflecting area of the crystal is large compared to inhomogeneities. Ray-tracing calculations using a Monte-Carlo-based algorithm developed for mosaic crystals reproduce the X-shaped halo in the focal plane, stemming from the mosaic defocussing in the non-dispersive direction in combination with large apertures. The best achievable resolution is found by analyzing a diversity of rocking curve widths, source sizes and crystal thicknesses for 8 keV x-rays to be ΔE/E ~ 10^(−4). Finally a general analytic expression for the shape of the aberration is derived.
C. Rödel, D. an der Brügge, J. Bierbach, M. Yeung, T. Hahn, B. Dromey, S. Herzer, S. Fuchs, A. Pour, E. Eckner, M. Behmke, M. Cerchez, O. Jäckel, D. Hemmers, T. Toncian, M.C. Kaluza, A. Belyanin, G. Pretzler, O. Willi, A. Pukhov, M. Zepf, and G.G. Paulus
Harmonic Generation from Relativistic Plasma Surfaces in Ultrasteep Plasma Density Gradients
Phys. Rev. Lett., 109 :125002 (September 2012)
Harmonic generation in the limit of ultrasteep density gradients is studied experimentally. Observations reveal that, while the efficient generation of high order harmonics from relativistic surfaces requires steep plasma density scale lengths (L_p/λ < 1), the absolute efficiency of the harmonics declines for the steepest plasma density scale length L_p → 0, thus demonstrating that near-steplike density gradients can be achieved for interactions using high-contrast high-intensity laser pulses. Absolute photon yields are obtained using a calibrated detection system. The efficiency of harmonics reflected from the laser driven plasma surface via the relativistic oscillating mirror was estimated to be in the range of 10^-4 – 10^-6 of the laser pulse energy for photon energies ranging from 20 – 40 eV, with the best results being obtained for an intermediate density scale length.
B. Döbrich, H. Gies, N. Neitz, and F. Karbstein
Magnetically Amplified Tunneling of the Third Kind as a Probe of Minicharged Particles
Phys. Rev. Lett., 109 :131802 (September 2012)
We show that magnetic fields significantly enhance a new tunneling mechanism in quantum field theories with photons coupling to fermionic minicharged particles (MCPs). We propose a dedicated laboratory experiment of the light-shining-through-walls type that can explore a parameter regime comparable to and even beyond the best model-independent cosmological bounds. With present-day technology, such an experiment is particularly sensitive to MCPs with masses in and below the meV regime as suggested by new-physics extensions of the standard model.
J. Körner, C. Vorholt, H. Liebetrau, M. Kahle, D. Klöpfel, R. Seifert, J. Hein, and M.C. Kaluza
Measurement of temperature-dependent absorption and emission spectra of Yb:YAG, Yb:LuAG, and Yb:CaF_2 between 20 °C and 200 °C and predictions on their influence on laser performance
J. Opt. Soc. Am. B, 29 :2493 (September 2012)
Accurate values of the emission and absorption cross sections of Yb:YAG, Yb:LuAG, and Yb:CaF_2 as a function of temperature between room temperature and 200 °C are presented. For this purpose, absorption and fluorescence spectra were measured using a setup optimized to reduce the effect of radiation trapping. From these data, emission cross sections were retrieved by combining the Fuchtbauer–Ladenburg equation and the reciprocity method. Based on our measurements, simple estimations illustrate the effect of temperature shifts that are likely to occur in typical laser setups. Our results show that even minor temperature variations can have significant impact on the laser performance using Yb:YAG and Yb:LuAG as an active medium, while Yb:CaF_2 appears to be rather insensitive.
A. V. Maiorova, A. Surzhykov, S. Tashenov, V. M. Shabaev, and T. Stöhlker
Production and diagnostics of spin-polarized heavy ions in sequential two-electron radiative recombination
Phys. Rev. A, 86 :032701 (September 2012)
In the present work we investigate the sequential radiative recombination (RR) of initially bare ions colliding with two spatially separated electron targets. It is shown that magnetic sublevel population of the hydrogenlike ions, produced by the electron capture from the first target, depends on the emission direction of the (first) RR photon. This population, which can be expressed in terms of the polarization parameters, affects then the angular and polarization properties of the radiation emitted in the collision with the second target. The coincidence measurements of two subsequent RR photons may allow one to understand, therefore, the production and diagnostics of the ion spin polarization. In order to describe this polarization production and diagnostic scheme we derive the general expression for the γ-γ correlation function. Detailed calculations for the dependence of this function on the geometry of photon emission and collision energy are performed for the radiative recombination of bare uranium ions.
A. Paz, S. Kuschel, C. Rödel, M. Schnell, O. Jäckel, M.C. Kaluza, and G.G. Paulus
Thomson backscattering from laser-generated, relativistically moving high-density electron layers
New J. Phys., 14 :093018 (September 2012)
We show experimentally that extreme ultraviolet radiation is produced when a laser pulse is Thomson backscattered from sheets of relativistic electrons that are formed at the rear surface of a foil irradiated on its front side with a high-intensity laser. An all-optical setup is realized using the Jena titanium:sapphire ten-terawatt laser system with an enhanced amplified spontaneous emission background of 10^−12. The main pulse is split into two: one of them accelerates electrons from thin aluminium foil targets to energies of the order of some MeV and the other, counterpropagating probe pulse Thomson-backscatters off these electrons when they exit the target rear side. The process produced photons within a wide spectral range of some tens of eV as a result of the broad electron energy distribution. The highest scattering intensity is observed when the probe pulse arrives at the target rear surface 100 fs after irradiation of the target front side by the pump pulse, corresponding to the maximum flux of hot electrons at the interaction region. These results can provide time-resolved information about the evolution of the rear-surface electron sheath and hence about the dynamics of the electric fields responsible for the acceleration of ions from the rear surface of thin, laser-irradiated foils.
M. Vogel, W. Quint, G.G. Paulus, and T. Stöhlker
A Penning trap for advanced studies with particles in extreme laser fields
Nucl. Instr. Meth. Phys. Res. B, 285 :65 (August 2012)
We present a Penning trap as a tool for advanced studies of particles in extreme laser fields. Particularly, trap-specific manipulation techniques allow control over the confined particles’ localization and spatial density by use of trap electrodes as ‘electrostatic tweezers’ and by application of a ‘rotating wall’, respectively. It is thereby possible to select and prepare well-defined ion ensembles and to optimize the laser–particle interaction. Non-destructive detection of reaction educts and products with up to single-ion sensitivity supports advanced studies by maintaining the products for further studies at extended confinement times of minutes and above. The trap features endcaps with conical openings for applications with strongly focused lasers. We show that such a modification of a cylindrical trap is possible while harmonicity and tunability are maintained.
S. Keppler, M. Hornung, R. Bödefeld, M. Kahle, J. Hein, and M.C. Kaluza
All-reflective, highly accurate polarization rotator for high-power short-pulse laser systems
Opt. Express, 20 :20742 (August 2012)
We present the setup of a polarization rotating device and its adaption for high-power short-pulse laser systems. Compared to conventional halfwave plates, the all-reflective principle using three zero-phase shift mirrors provides a higher accuracy and a higher damage threshold. Since plan-parallel plates, e.g. these halfwave plates, generate postpulses, which could lead to the generation of prepulses during the subsequent laser chain, the presented device avoids parasitic pulses and is therefore the preferable alternative for high-contrast applications. Moreover the device is easily scalable for large beam diameters and its spectral reflectivity can be adjusted by an appropriate mirror coating to be well suited for ultra-short laser pulses.
A. Willner, A. Hage, R. Riedel, I. Grguraš, A. Simoncig, M. Schulz, T. Dzelzainis, H. Höppner, S. Huber, M. J. Prandolini, B. Dromey, M. Zepf, A. L. Cavalieri, and F. Tavella
Coherent spectral enhancement of carrier-envelope-phase stable continua with dual-gas high harmonic generation
Opt. Lett., 37 :3672 (August 2012)
Attosecond science is enabled by the ability to convert femtosecond near-infrared laser light into coherent harmonics in the extreme ultraviolet spectral range. While attosecond sources have been utilized in experiments that have not demanded high intensities, substantially higher photon flux would provide a natural link to the next significant experimental breakthrough. Numerical simulations of dual-gas high harmonic generation indicate that the output in the cutoff spectral region can be selectively enhanced without disturbing the single-atom gating mechanism. Here, we summarize the results of these simulations and present first experimental findings to support these predictions.
S. Fritzsche, A. Surzhykov, A. Gumberidze, and T. Stöhlker
Electron emission from highly charged ions - signatures of magnetic interactions and retardation in strong fields
New J. Phys., 14 :083018 (August 2012)
The electron emission of highly charged ions has been reanalyzed with the goal of separating the magnetic and retardation contributions to the electron-electron (e-e) interaction from the static Coulomb repulsion in strong fields. A remarkable change in the electron angular distribution due to the relativistic terms in the e-e interaction is found, especially for the autoionization of beryllium-like projectiles, following a 1s → 2p_(3/2) Coulomb excitation in collision with some target nuclei. For low-energetic, high-Z projectiles with Tp ≤ 10 MeV u^(−1), a diminished (electron) emission in the forward direction as well as oscillations in the electron angular distribution due to the magnetic and retarded interactions are predicted for the autoionization of the 1s 2s^(2) 2p_(3/2) 3^P_2 resonance into the 1s^2 2s^2 S_(1/2) ground and the 1s^2 2p^2P_(1/2) excited levels of the finally lithium-like ions, and in contrast to a pure Coulomb repulsion between the bound and emitted electrons. The proposed excitation-autoionization process can be observed at existing storage rings and will provide a novel insight into the dynamics of electrons in strong fields.
G. R. Plateau, C. G. R. Geddes, D. B. Thorn, M. Chen, C. Benedetti, E. Esarey, A. J. Gonsalves, N. H. Matlis, K. Nakamura, C. B. Schroeder, S. Shiraishi, T. Sokollik, J. van Tilborg, C. Toth, S. Trotsenko, T. S. Kim, M. Battaglia, T. Stöhlker, and W. P. Leemans
Low-Emittance Electron Bunches from a Laser-Plasma Accelerator Measured using Single-Shot X-Ray Spectroscopy
Phys. Rev. Lett., 109 :064802 (August 2012)
X-ray spectroscopy is used to obtain single-shot information on electron beam emittance in a low-energy-spread 0.5 GeV-class laser-plasma accelerator. Measurements of betatron radiation from 2 to 20 keV used a CCD and single-photon counting techniques. By matching x-ray spectra to betatron radiation models, the electron bunch radius inside the plasma is estimated to be ~0.1  μm. Combining this with simultaneous electron spectra, normalized transverse emittance is estimated to be as low as 0.1 mm mrad, consistent with three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations. Correlations of the bunch radius with electron beam parameters are presented.