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Rev Sci Instrum. 2007 Oct;78(10):103105.

An accurate, repeatable, and well characterized measurement of laser damage density of optical materials.

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  • 1CEA Cesta, BP2, 33114 Le Barp, France.


Known for more than 40 years, laser damage phenomena have not been measured reproducibly up to now. Laser resistance of optical components is decreased by the presence of material defects, the distribution of which can initiate a distribution of damage sites. A raster scan test procedure has been used for several years in order to determine laser damage density of large aperture UV fused silica optics. This procedure was improved in terms of accuracy and repeatability. We describe the equipment, test procedure, and data analysis to perform this damage test of large aperture optics with small beams. The originality of the refined procedure is that a shot to shot correlation is performed between the damage occurrence and the corresponding fluence by recording beam parameters of hundreds of thousands of shots during the test at 10 Hz. We characterize the distribution of damaging defects by the fluence at which they cause damage. Because tests are realized with small Gaussian beams (about 1 mm at 1e), beam overlap and beam shape are two key parameters which have to be taken into account in order to determine damage density. After complete data analysis and treatment, we reached a repeatable metrology of laser damage performance. The measurement is destructive for the sample. However, the consideration of error bars on defect distributions in a series of parts allows us to compare data with other installations. This will permit to look for reproducibility, a necessary condition in order to test theoretical predictions.

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