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A single-pass two-stage Nd:YVO4 amplifier was used to increase the energy of a 7.7-ps seed pulse from < 1 nJ to 210 muJ (11-ps time duration), maintaining the input spatial quality of the pulse. The laser-diode side-pumped grazing-incidence Nd:YVO4 slab amplifier was optimized for minimum amplified spontaneous emission noise and for maximum energy extraction, with single-pass small-signal gain of 59 dB. Diffraction-limited operation up to 1 kHz is possible. Conversion efficiency of 75 % at 532 nm and 40% at 266 nm was observed.