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Research Area A.2

New technologies for broadband laser, ultrashort x-ray & high-energy particle beams

Controlled intense few-cycle lasers as primary sources for the synthesis of ultra-broadband arbitrary light waveforms and the generation of attosecond pulses, brilliant X-rays and high-energy particle (electron and ion) beams provide the technological basis for MAP’s research foci. Here we aim to develop the tools indispensable for the realisation of these cutting-edge technologies. They include highly-specialised laser optics, X-ray optics and detectors, nano-scaled targets for electron and ion beam acceleration as well as simulation tools for the optimisation of laser-driven particle acceleration and coherent X-ray optics. In developing these key tools, none of which is commercially available, we shall capitalize on the substantial expertise accumulated during the first funding period.

Our research and development activities in Research Area A.2 “New technologies for broadband laser-ultrashort X-ray & high-energy particle beams” are expected to benefit our primary (see Area A.1) and secondary (see Area A.3) sources in several ways. Sophisticated multilayer optical coating design and manufacturing techniques will reduce losses, enhance the damage threshold, extend the bandwidth and spectral coverage of these indispensable elements of laser systems, allowing to improve their performance in terms of a number of key parameters including peak power, bandwidth, pulse duration, waveform-shaping, repetition rate. X-ray detector development for advanced high-resolution biomedical imaging, thin-film targets for laser-accelerated electron and ion beams and their theoretical optimisation by customised simulation tools will enable MAP researchers to exploit the full potential offered by high-energy sources for applications.

Main objectives for 2012-2017:

a) Development of ultra-broadband, chirped dielectric multilayer reflectors for dispersion-control of supercontinua extending from deep UV (~250 nm) to the near-IR (~1100 nm) and later mid-IR (~3000 nm) for multi-octave light waveform synthesis and high-dispersive, high-reflectivity multilayers for compact, high-throughput compressors for chirped-pulse amplification

b) Advancing low-loss, broadband multilayers significantly beyond the current state of the art in terms of damage threshold and reflectivity for intra-cavity and extra-cavity applications

c) Extending the spectral coverage of broadband aperiodic metallic multilayers from the currently accessed 30-180 eV range up to the water window (280-550 eV9 and beyond (à 1 keV) for isolated sub-100-as (and later sub-50-as) soft X-ray pulse generation and temporal shaping

d) Development of broadband diffractive multilayer optics for nanofocusing/-imaging of sub-fs/attosecond pulses at 100 eV (proof of principle) and later in the water window

e) Development of large-area (12 x 12 cm) Si/Au diffraction gratings at 33 keV (later à 80 kev) for large field-of-view X-ray phase-contrast imaging for proof-of-principle applications with BRIX