Modern VUV and X-ray Free Electron Laser (FEL) facilities contain a number of ultrafast lasers (like photoinjector, seed and pump-probe lasers) whose performance is crucial for the generated FEL light quality as well as for the accuracy of the time resolved measurements performed using the FEL pulses. One of the very important laser related aspects, especially at seeded FELs, is the ability to precisely lock the ultrafast laser systems to the master clock signal, keeping the timing jitter and drifts of the generated pulses with respect to the machine timing as low as possible. The aim of this work is to review the main sources of timing jitter and drifts and present the schemes and solutions developed at FERMI for their characterization and compensation. The paper will first introduce a general scheme showing the architecture of the laser locking system developed for FERMI. Both the radio-frequency (RF) locking and the advanced balanced optical cross correlator electronics and optical setup design are described, together with data on the laser oscillator locking performance obtained in different modalities. Cross correlation measurements indicating the contribution of the ultrafast regenerative amplifier and optical beam transport part to the overall temporal jitter of the amplified ultrashort pulses arriving at destination are presented. The paper also includes examples of the influence of improved laser timing jitter and drifts on the seeded FEL performance and discusses foreseen future developments.
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P. Sigalotti ; P. Cinquegrana ; A. Demidovich ; R. Ivanov ; I. Nikolov, et al.
Ultrafast laser synchronization at the FERMI@Elettra FEL
", Proc. SPIE 8778, Advances in X-ray Free-Electron Lasers II: Instrumentation, 87780Q (May 3, 2013); doi:10.1117/12.2020488; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.2020488