Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Henry C. Kapteyn

Second Advisor

Margaret M. Murnane

Third Advisor

Sterling Backus

Fourth Advisor

Andreas Becker

Fifth Advisor

Kelvin Wagner

Abstract

This thesis describes the development of a new mid-infrared laser designed to drive high harmonic generation of keV-energy soft x-rays with high flux. The mid-infrared wavelength regime (3 to 5 μm wavelength) is required to generate high harmonics with photon energies reaching 1 keV in the form of isolated attosecond bursts. This light would provide simultaneous few-nanometer spatial resolution and attosecond time resolution that could shed light on physical processes which occur at these length and time scales. Such processes have both scientific and technological importance.

The laser system described in this thesis reaches pulse energies up to 1.25 mJ at 1 kHz repetition rate, 3.1 μm wavelength, and with enough bandwidth to support 60 fs transform-limited pulses. Also, we demonstrate preliminary pulse compression to below 500 fs. This laser is therefore the first table-top mid-infrared laser with enough peak intensity and average power to generate harmonics with sufficient flux to be useful for application experiments. This laser uses Optical Parametric Chirped Pulse Amplification (OPCPA) to convert near-infrared light to the 3 μm wavelength regime, combining fiber lasers, cryogenically cooled solid state lasers, diode lasers, and optical parametric amplification in a unique architecture. In this thesis, we describe the current design of this laser system, the considerations that influenced its design, and its potential for scaling to higher pulse energies and repetition rates in the future.

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