The Trident Laser is a high power, sub-petawatt class, solid-state laser facility located at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL website), in Los Alamos, New Mexico, originally built in the late 1980s for Inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research by KMS Fusion, founded by Kip Siegel, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, it was later moved to Los Alamos in the early 1990s to be used in ICF and materials research. The Trident Laser Facility has been opened up to external users via the Trident National User Program and potential users can now submit proposals for laser time.
The Trident Laser consists of three main laser chains (A,B, and C) of neodymium glass amplifiers (or Nd:glass), two are identical longpulse beams lines, A&B, and a third beamline, C, that can be operated either in longpulse or in chirped pulse amplification (CPA) shortpulse mode. Longpulse beams A and B, are laser chains capable of delivering up to ~500 J at 1054 nm, which are frequency doubled to 527 nm and ~200 J depending on pulse duration; the pulse duration can be varied from 100 ps to 1 µs, and is a unique capability of any large laser in the US (and possibly the world). The third laser chain, beamline C, can produce up to ~200 J at 1054 nm, or can be frequency doubled to 527 nm at ~100 J in the longpulse mode with the same pulse duration variability as beams A and B; or can be use in the recently (June 2007) completed Trident enhancement configuration allowing the ~200 J beam to be compressed via CPA to ~600 fs and ~100 J, producing powers on the scale of a quarter petawatt(~200 TW). A 100 mJ 500 fs probe beamline is also available.
The 200TW shortpulse ultra high-intensity laser system is currently a world record holder in ion acceleration energy, producing protons at 58.5 MeV, beating the record of the NOVA Petawatt laser back in 1999. Trident delivers Petawat performance at a fifth of the power! The 200TW or C beam is capable of focusing down to less than 10 micrometers in diameter to reach laser field intensities (irradiance) of ~2x1020 W/cm², producing protons over 50 MeV as well as high quaility, high energy xrays. The interaction can be diagnosed with a Backscatter Focal Diagnostics  similar to a Full Aperture Back-scatter (FABS) diagnostic at the National Ignition Facility. A new front-end for the laser employs a 2nd order cleaning technique, dubbed SPOPA (for Short-Pulse Optical Parametric Amplification) cleaning, which reduces the contrast to better than 10-9 ASE intensity ratio, making it the cleanest ultra high-intensity high-power laser in the world.
The laser is currently being used for Fast Ignition ICF research, warm dense matter experiments, materials dynamics studies, and laser-matter interaction research, including particle acceleration, x-ray backlighting and laser-plasma instabilities (LPI).
For more information see the Trident User Facility Website: Trident User Facility, Los Alamos National Laboratory.
1. ^ "Trident: a versatile high-power Nd:glass laser facility for inertial confinement fusion experiments," N. K. Moncur, R. P. Johnson, R. G. Watt, and R. B. Gibson,Applied Optics 34 pp.4274-4283 (1995)