The NIF laser system will be capable of delivering 1.8 MJ of 351 nm energy in 192 beams. Diagnostics instruments must measure beam energy, power vs. time, wavefront quality, and beam intensity proifle to characterize laser performance. Alignment and beam diagnostics are also used to set the laser up for the high power shots and to isolate problems when performance is less than expected. Alignment and beam diagnostics are multiplexed to keep the costs under control. At the front-end the beam is aligned and diagnosed in an input sensor package. The output 1053 nm beam is sampled by collecting a 0.1% reflection from an output beam sampler and directing it to the output sensor package (OSP). The OSP also gets samples from final focus lens reflection and samples from the transport spatial filter pinhole plane. The output 351 nm energy is measured by a calorimeter collecting the signal from an off-axis diffractive beam-sampler. Detailed information on the focused beam in the high-energy target focal plane region is gathered in the precision diagnostics. This paper describes the design of the alignment and diagnostics on the NIF laser system.
Earlier papers have described approaches to NIF alignment and laser diagnostics tasks. Now, detailed design of alignment and diagnostic systems for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser is in its last year. Specifications are more detailed, additional analyses have been completed, Pro- E models have been developed, and prototypes of specific items have been built. In this paper we update top level concepts, illustrate specific areas of progress, and show design implementations as represented by prototype hardware. The alignment light source network has been fully defined. It utilizes an optimized number of lasers combined with fiber optic distribution to provide the chain alignment beams, system centering references, final spatial filter pinhole references, target alignment beams, and wavefront reference beams. The input and output sensor are being prototyped. They are located respectively in the front end just before beam injection into the full aperture chain and at the transport spatial filter, where the full energy infrared beam leaves the laser. The modularity of the input sensor is improved, and each output sensor mechanical package now incorporates instrumentation for four beams.
Beam control and diagnostic systems are required to align the National Ignition Facility laser prior to a shot as well as to provide diagnostics on 192 beam lines at shot time. A design that allows each beam's large spatial filter lenses to also serve as objective lenses for beam control and diagnostic sensor packages helps to accomplish the task at a reasonable cost. However, this approach also causes a high concentration of small optics near the pinhole plane of the transport spatial filter (TSF) at the output of each beam. This paper describes the optomechanical design in and near the central vacuum vessel of the TSF.
The operational requirements of the National Ignition Facility place tight constraints upon its alignment system. In general, the alignment system must establish and maintain the correct relationships between beam position, beam angle, laser component clear apertures, and the target. At the target, this includes adjustment of beam focus to obtain the correct spot size. This must be accomplished for all beamlines in the time consistent with planned shot rates and yet, in the front end and main laser, beam control functions cannot be initiated until the amplifiers have sufficiently cooled so as to minimize dynamic thermal distortions during and after alignment and wavefront optimization. The scope of the task dictates an automated system that implements parallel processes. We describe reticle choices and other alignment references, insertion of alignment beams, principles of operation of the Chamber Center Reference System and Target Alignment Sensor, and the anticipated alignment sequence that will occur between shots.