Automated Laser Alignment System for High Intensity Laser Experiments

  Itamar Cohen  ,  Dolev Roitman  ,  Itay Kishon  ,  Ishay Pomerantz  
Tel Aviv University, School of Physics and Astronomy

We study the interaction of a high intensity laser field with matter by focusing 20 TW laser pulses on solid foils. To achieve maximal intensity, the focal spot size should be minimized, typically to a diameter of few micrometers. Since experiments are conducted in a vacuum environment, the optical alignment procedure is challenging and has to be done remotely using motors. Furthermore, aligning the optics manually is a time consuming endeavor.

Our goal is to develop an automated system for aligning the focusing optics. Our method is based on image processing techniques to quantify the peak intensity, the focal spot shape and camera position relative to the beam profile. Based on this information, the system improves the alignment of the focusing optics. The process is conducted in an iterative manner to achieve optimal alignment and to maximize the focused intensity.

The mechanical assembly consists of piezo motors, and a long working range microscope that operates under vacuum.

I will present our method and preliminary results.