Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS)

Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS)

Institut national de la recherche scientifique

1650 Lionel-Boulet Boulevard

Varennes, QC J3X1S2
General contact
François Légaré
Professor and director of Advanced Laser Light Source

Telecocommunications, Material and Energy Centre

T: (514) 228-6871
Research contact
Heide Ibrahim
Scientific coordinator of Advanced Laser Light Source

Telecocommunications, Material and Energy Centre

T: (514) 228-6865
Published date: Mar 31, 2016
What the lab/facility does

Ultrafast laser technologies, high peak power femtosecond lasers, advanced materials characterization, advanced materials processing, atomic and molecular optical physics, plasma physics, materials and biomedical imaging,  advanced medical diagnostics, compact particle accelerators, soft X-ray and hard X-ray sources, advanced spectroscopy techniques,  phase contrast imaging, mid-infrared and THz photonics, dynamic imaging of complex systems, development of high power laser systems 

Sectors of Application
Aerospace and satellites; Agriculture, animal science and food; Automotive; Chemical industries; Defense and security industries; Education; Energy (renewable and fossil); Environmental technologies and related services; Forestry and forest-based industries; Information and communication technologies and media; Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment; Manufacturing and processing; Professional and technical services (including legal services, architecture, engineering)
Area(s) of expertise

The Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS) facility is located at the Varennes campus of the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre Énergie, Matériaux, et Télécommunications, where national and international users can access a variety of laser systems, ultrafast sources, and beamlines. It was funded in 2002 through the International Joint Ventures Fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation with an initial investment of $20.95 million, became fully operational in 2008, and was continuously improved through additional upgrades from its key Canadian users (value more than $7 million).

With the ALLS’s powerful lasers, the facility provides to users a large variety of light sources ranging from THz (300 micron wavelength) to hard X-rays (Angstrom – 0.1 nm wavelength), and electron beams, within ultrashort pulse durations. Since these light sources and beams are generated in an all-optical way, they are spatially and temporally synchronized. As a result, the facility opens the door to explore the potential of dynamic imaging of atomic, molecular and condensed matter systems and provides unique tools to explore the fundamental questions of physics and chemistry. This leads to important outcomes in fundamental science as well as in innovative technological applications and tools. Among these applications are high-spatial resolution material and medical imaging, micro-machining and materials processing, as well as applications for security and defence, telecommunications and information.

Finally, access to ALLS is based on scientific and innovative merit, through a well-defined process, which involves the evaluation of letters of intent (LOI) by an independent scientific/technology committee called the Beam Time Allocation Committee (BTAC). Twice a year, a call for beam time is announced defining an ALLS session and users send their LOIs to the ALLS scientific coordinator. Once the letters are received, the BTAC evaluates them. ALLS reserves a specific number of weeks per year (up to 25 percent) for projects with Canadian companies and government agencies.

Research Services

Soft X-ray and hard X-ray spectroscopy, hard X-ray phase contrast imaging,
THz spectroscopy and imaging, time-resolved spectroscopic measurements, characterization of optical components across the electromagnetic spectrum (from THz to hard X-ray), laser micro-machining, laser material processing,
laser integration for pulsed laser deposition (PLD) systems, laser-induced damage threshold measurement,
laser systems design and prototyping, optical design (non-linear optics, ultrashort pulses, high power lasers),
optical metrology (beam size up to 200mm), vacuum chamber design and fabrication, ultra-high vacuum cleaning and metrology, vacuum compatible welding, laser-matter interaction chamber design and fabrication, high energy electron spectrometer fabrication (up to 1 GeV), electro-magnetic testing chamber (Large Faraday Shield Room),
laser maintenance and training of personnel, laser safety training, theoretical modelling of laser-matter interaction

Specialized labs and equipment

Name of specialized lab

Name of equipment

Description of function


500 TW Titanium-Sapphire laser system

Specs: Highest peak power Titanium-Sapphire laser system in Canada. 10 joules per pulse, 17 femtoseconds (fs), 2.5 Hz.

Function: electron acceleration, ion acceleration, hard X-ray phase contrast imaging, time-resolved hard X-ray spectroscopy. Filamentation. High-field physics.


Multi-kHz Titanium-Sapphire laser system

Specs: 4.5 millijoules (mJ/pulse), 30 fs, up to 5 kHz

Function: THz spectroscopy and imaging, time-resolved spectroscopy, VUV to XUV sources at high repetition rate, materials characterization, micro-machining and materials processing, dynamic molecular imaging,


100 Hz Titanium-Sapphire laser system

Specs: 100 mJ/pulse, 40 fs, 100 Hz

Function: Plasma physics. Pumping high energy infrared laser system. Mid-infrared and THz photonics. VUV to soft X-ray sources for materials characterization. Generation of high-field THz pulses. Time-resolved measurements including THz pump – X-ray probe spectroscopy.


10 Hz high energy optical parametric amplifier

Specs: Highest peak power infrared laser system in Canada. 15 mJ/pulse, 15 fs, 10 Hz at 1.8 micron.

Function: Generation of ultrashort soft X-ray pulses for material characterization and time-resolved spectroscopy. Attosecond science. Longitudinal electron acceleration.  Filamentation at long wavelength.


End-stations (five)

Function: stations where experiments are performed. These stations are equipped with advanced metrologies and diagnostics.

(1) Ultrafast molecular imaging experiments,

(2) High harmonic generation end-stations (surface harmonics, gas harmonics, plasma harmonics) for VUV to soft X-ray spectroscopic measurements,

(3) THz generation end-stations,

(4) Electron acceleration end-stations,

(5) Betatron beamline for phase contrast imaging and hard X-ray spectroscopy.


Specialized equipment for advanced diagnostics

(1) X-ray CCD cameras (10eV-20 keV):




(2) Streak cameras with sub-ps time resolution (visible, UV and X detection ranges)

(3) Magnetic-field electron spectrometer (50 MeV-1 GeV)

(4) Time-of-flight ion detector (150 keV-20 MeV)

(5) Ultrashort pulse optical diagnostics:

Wavefront sensors

Pulse duration characterization (5fs-ps, 200nm-4000nm)

Optical spectrometers (200nm-20000nm)

Carrier-to-envelope phase measurement  (f-2f interferometer)

THz electro-optical sampling

Private and public sector research partners
  • Applied Nanotools Inc.
  • Axis Photonique Inc.
  • Defence Research and Development Canada RDC
  • few-cycle Inc.
  • Genia Photonics Inc.
  • Ki3-Photonics Technologies Inc.
  • MPB Communications Inc.
  • O/E Land Inc.
  • National Research Council Canada
  • Osela Inc.
  • Passat Ltd.
  • Photon etc
  • Plasmionique Inc.
  • Spectra-Physics Vienna - Femtolasers Produktions GmbH

A view of the new 500TW system and laser laboratory during installation (October 2015).

Credit: INRS

The betatron X-ray imaging beamline with the laser wakefield acceleration target chamber on the right.

Credit: INRS

The schematic of Frequency domain Optical Parametric Amplification. Invented by INRS-ÉMT researchers and developed at ALLS, this technology will provide TW few-cycle 1.8 micron laser pulses. Available to users by September 2016. This technology is commercialized by a spin-off of INRS-ÉMT, few-cycle Inc.

Credit: Schematic from INRS-ÉMT researchers.

The high harmonic generation experimental setup for ultrafast soft X-ray spectroscopy and imaging.

Credit: Josée Lecompte

Target chamber for laser-matter interaction experiments at high intensities.

Credit: Josée Lecompte

Additional Information



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