Raman amplifiers have several important applications, such as efficient conversion of laser frequency, pulse compression, and brightness enhancement. We investigated in detail characteristics of a Raman amplifier which uses methane gas pumped by KrF laser radiation at 248.5 nm. A high-quality Stokes beam was generated and amplified in an amplifier with a large Fresnel number, efficiently depleting pump beams of poor spatial quality. This system has a potential for scaling up to energies needed for laser fusion experiments.
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