High-repetition rate, liquid thin-film laser target inserter

A variable thickness liquid film target is generated at repetition rates in excess of 10 Hz for laser interaction applications

The Need

Intense laser-matter experiments utilize high-powered lasers that generate extreme temperatures and pressures to impact small, thin targets that are usually solid metallic foils millimeters in length and nanometers to microns in thickness. The number of particles accelerated and amount of radiation generated when the laser interacts with such a target depends on the target thickness and makeup. While lasers can fire many times per second, no current techniques provide targets with these characteristics at high repetition rates. In addition, the lengthy procedure of target alignment often decreases the effective experimental shot rate to a few times per hour.

The Technology

Researchers at The Ohio State University, led by Dr. Douglass Schumacher, developed an apparatus that repeatedly forms films for use as targets in intense laser-matter experiments. These films operate as ideal targets in laser experiments with repetition rates in excess of 10 times per second. The targets are produced by forming liquid crystals into films that are destroyed during the initial laser shot but then reformed in precisely the same position before the next laser shot arrives, eliminating the need for realignment.

Commercial Applications

  • Particle acceleration
  • Rusion
  • X-rays
  • Other forms of radiation production
  • Pulse cleaners
  • Laser manufacturing
  • Medical technology
  • Scientific research


  • Pre-pulse cleaning
  • Low vapor pressure of liquid crystals
  • High repetition rates (10 Hz)
  • Targets can be tailored to have the desired thickness range of nanometers to microns for laser-matter experiments
  • Target thickness can be varied in real time during data collection, unlike conventional solid targets

Loading icon