Laser System

The ZEUS laser is being constructed using mainly commercial components based on a design that will result in a reliable laser facility for experiments at the frontier of relativistic plasma physics. Proceeding clockwise, the Figure 1 shows: The Amplitude Technologies Pulsar, a double chirped pulse amplified laser with cross-polarization wave modulation to improve contrast and bandwidth; two Pockels cells for isolation, a series of three amplifiers (brown) coupled by vacuum spatial filters and pumped by commercial pump lasers (green); an auxiliary programmable nanosecond drive pulse laser (dark red) which can also provide backup pump energy if needed; an atmospheric beam splitting and delay system (red lines); a 3 PW compressor with fused silica-based gratings and a 500 TW compressor with ultra low expansion glass-based gratings; and three target areas linked by evacuated delivery lines. In this configuration, the front-end Pulsar system and the compressor are being designed to maintain the bandwidth and phase compensation needed to support 20 fs compressed pulses with the final detailed spectral amplitude and phase being set by programmable acousto-optic filters (Mazzler and Dazzler, respectively).

Figure 1. ZEUS laser schematic.

Operational modes

The laser will be able to operate in a number of different modes to accommodate different experiments.

Mode 1: All of the laser energy will go to the 3 PW compressor to produce the full 3 PW power in a single pulse, that can fire at a repetition rate of a shot per minute. Initially, this mode will only be available in Target Area 1 (TA1)

Mode 2: A 0.5 PW pulse can be supplied to any of the target areas through the 0.5 PW compressor. This can run at 1 shot per minute or in a 5 Hz burst mode, depending on the configuration.

Mode 3: The pulse is divided into two and compressed in the separate compressor chambers to provide synchronized a 2.5 PW and a 0.5 PW pulses. This mode would run at one shot per minute into Target Area 1 (TA1).

Mode 4: A long pulse system can supply 70 J in 1.5 – 10 ns pulses in green, in addition to the 3 PW pulse. This mode would run at one shot per minute into Target Area 1 (TA1).


A target characterization suite will be available and a range of standard targets will be available.

  • Solid, liquid, gas;
  • High rep rate – rotating;
  • Solid targets mounted in-house (limited fabrication capability);
  • 3D printed variable length gas cells, nozzles.

C. McGuffey, et al.,  PRL (2010).                                             P. Drake & C. Kuranz

M. Vargas, et al., APL (2014).