Increasing the peak intensity to which high power laser pulses are focused can open up new regimes of laser-plasma interactions, resulting in the acceleration of ions to higher energies and more efficient generation of energetic photons. Low f-number focusing plasma mirrors, which re-image and demagnify the laser focus, provide an attractive approach to producing higher intensities, without requiring significant changes to the laser system. They are small, enhance the pulse intensity contrast and eliminate the requirement to expose expensive optics directly to target debris. We report on progress made in a programme of work to design, manufacture and optimise ellipsoidal focusing plasma mirrors. Different approaches to manufacturing these innovative optics are described and the results of characterisation tests are presented. The procedure developed to align the optics is outlined, together with initial results from their use with a petawatt-level laser.
- laser-plasma interaction
- plasma mirrors