Using three different laser systems, we demonstrate a convenient and simple plasma based diagnostic of the contrast of high-power short-pulse lasers. The technique is based on measuring the specular reflectivity from a solid target. The reflectivity remains high even at relativistic intensities above 10(19) W/cm(2) in the case of a high-contrast prepulse-free laser. On the contrary, the specular reflectivity drops with increasing intensities in the case of systems with insufficient contrast due to beam breakup and increased absorption caused by preplasma.
- high-speed optical techniques
- laser beams
- optical pulse generation