Laser-pulse intensities have grown remarkably in recent years, primarily through the method of chirped pulse amplification. Much higher powers are restricted primarily because of material limitations, especially those of optical gratings. These limitations may be overcome by using plasma. Plasmas are ideal for processing very high power and very high total energy. Once a laser pulse is compressed from nanoseconds to picoseconds using a chirped pump amplifier, a plasma pulsed by a counter-propagating laser pulse can be used to compress the original pulse from picoseconds to femtoseconds. The combined system, which is very compact, results in focused intensities several orders of magnitude higher than currently available.
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