First Laser Systems Start Shining

ELI-ALPS became operational: During the Grand Scientific Opening event, its status and the research opportunities were presented. (Source: ELI-ALPS)

The first three laser systems, namely the mid-infrared, the terahertz and the high repetition rate lasers are installed and becoming operational in the ELI-ALPS research institute in Szeged, Hungary. Already this year, these systems will become available for use by the research community. Experimental campaigns using these systems are initiated in the framework of collaborations between ELI-ALPS and external scientists, fostering the dawn of the operational phase of the institute.

The research institute’s mid-infrared laser has been developed in a joint research and development project led by Fastlite, with the participation of ELI-ALPS colleagues for approximately 1,6 million euros. This system has been successfully installed in ELI-ALPS and is the first to have passed the site acceptance test. The high repetition-rate laser has been developed by a consortium of the University of Jena, the Fraunhofer Institute and Active Fiber Systems for approximately € 3 M. The laser is now up and running, the final compression stages are under fine tuning. The research and development tender for the design, implementation and startup of the terahertz source was won by the University of Pécs in Hungary for € 2,74 M. Here, the driver laser is already operating under full specs, while the THz source and spectroscopy devices are under the final adjustments.

Regarding the technical novelty of the major laser sources, Károly Osvay, the research technology director of ELI-ALPS said: “The now operational mid-infrared laser is unique as it provides energetic, few optical cycle laser pulses tuneable over a broad range of the mid-infrared regime. This system surpasses the current ones not only in peak power by a factor of three to five, but also in operational stability. The high repetition rate laser is unique also from its architecture and design. This is the very first research grade short pulse laser which is based on the well-established diode and fiber laser technologies, combining it with the advanced methods of pulse shortening and phase stabilization. The result is a robust, yet table top laser system providing two optical cycle pulses at 100 kHz repetition rate with a 24 h long shot-to-shot stability.”

About the new scientific research opportunities opened with the high repetition rate and mid-infrared lasers Dimitris Charalambidis, the chief scientific advisor of ELI-ALPS, said: “These systems will serve as a driving source for novel short wavelength radiation sources of ultrashort pulses that will be dedicated to the investigation of ultrafast electric charge dynamics in atoms, molecules, biomolecules, surfaces and nanomaterials. The mid-infrared source will be a special new device for physicists, chemists, biologists, biophysicists. Due to scaling laws of nature, mid-infrared lasers, as drivers of secondary radiation sources, permit the generation of coherent short wavelength radiation pulses reaching the so called ‘water window’ spectral range. This is the soft x-ray region in which water is transparent and thus in this part of the electromagnetic spectrum the investigation of biological samples becomes possible. Moreover, these scaling laws lead to high speed electrons the diffraction of which by the species they originate from allows for structural investigations of these species with Angstrom spatial resolution. In the beginning of 2018, scientific teams from the European Union are starting the first ‘commissioning’ experiments on both lasers, in collaboration with a local team of researches and engineers.” (Source: ELI)

Link: ELI-HU Non-Profit Ltd., Szeged, Hungary

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