The main mission of the gun laser group is to develop, operate and maintain highly-reliable lasers and related optical schemes for driving the SwissFEL electron gun and laser heater. At the SwissFEL facility we operate two different pulsed amplified lasers, a high-power Yb:CaF2 laser system (1040 nm, 5 mJ, 100 Hz) with variable longitudinal pulse duration (600 fs - 10 ps) and a Yb:YLF system (1048 nm, 2 mJ, 7 ps) serving as backup. Transverse and longitudinal pulse shaping techniques are developed to deliver the most adequate laser pulse for high-brightness electron bunch generation. High-brightness electron beams are essential to efficiently drive compact x-ray free electron lasers (FELs), such as the SwissFEL. To reach this goal we closely work together with experts from beam dynamics and machine operation to steadily improve laser technology and diagnostic tools.
We also provide support of other laser systems connected to SwissFEL together with the pump laser group. For R&D we operate a high-power Ti:sapphire laser system with additional frequency conversion and pulse shaping schemes. Our focus is on developing the next generation laser instrumentation for SwissFEL like double bunch production for ATHOS and single shot UV diagnostics and laser arrival time monitors. Our group has been pioneering the laser-based generation of ultra-intense Terahertz pulses based on optical rectification in organic crystals which find numerous applications in condensed matter physics and can be paired to the x-ray FEL for new class of experiments ranging from condensed matter to ultrafast chemistry.