Pumping of the Ne-like Ge x-ray laser with two 100 ps duration pulses (a prepulse and main pulse) is investigated using a fluid and atomic physics code coupled to a 3D ray tracing postprocessor code. The modeling predicts the optimum ratio of the irradiance of the two pulses for the maximum x-ray laser output resulting from the balance between the relative lower electron density gradients and wider gain region which is produced with a larger prepulse and the higher peak gain coefficients produced with a small prepulse. With a longer pulse interval between prepulse and main pulse, a relatively lower optimum pulse ratio is found. The threshold irradiance of the main driving pulse with a prepulse required to make an order of magnitude enhancement of laser output compared to irradiation without a prepulse is also found at 3-4x10(13) W/cm(2) for Ne-like Ge. (C) 1998 American Institute of Physics
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