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Photonuclear Physics when a Multiterawatt Laser Pulse Interacts with Solid Targets

Phys. Rev. Lett. 84, 899 – Published 31 January 2000
K. W. D. Ledingham, I. Spencer, T. McCanny, R. P. Singhal, M. I. K. Santala, E. Clark, I. Watts, F. N. Beg, M. Zepf, K. Krushelnick, M. Tatarakis, A. E. Dangor, P. A. Norreys, R. Allott, D. Neely, R. J. Clark, A. C. Machacek, J. S. Wark, A. J. Cresswell, D. C. W. Sanderson, and J. Magill


When a laser pulse of intensity 1019 W cm-2 interacts with solid targets, electrons of energies of some tens of MeV are produced. In a tantalum target, the electrons generate an intense highly directional γ-ray beam that can be used to carry out photonuclear reactions. The isotopes 11C, 38K, 62,64Cu, 63Zn, 106Ag, 140Pr, and 180Ta have been produced by (γ,n) reactions using the VULCAN laser beam. In addition, laser-induced nuclear fission in 238U has been demonstrated, a process which was theoretically predicted at such laser intensities more than ten years ago. The ratio of the 11C and the 62Cu β+ activities yields shot-by-shot temperatures of the suprathermal electrons at laser intensities of 1019 W cm-2.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.84.899

  • Received 9 March 1999
  • Published in the issue dated 31 January 2000

© 2000 The American Physical Society

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Published 21 January 2000

Authors & Affiliations

K. W. D. Ledingham1, I. Spencer1, T. McCanny1, R. P. Singhal1, M. I. K. Santala2, E. Clark2, I. Watts2, F. N. Beg2, M. Zepf2, K. Krushelnick2, M. Tatarakis2, A. E. Dangor2, P. A. Norreys3, R. Allott3, D. Neely3, R. J. Clark3, A. C. Machacek4, J. S. Wark4, A. J. Cresswell5, D. C. W. Sanderson5, and J. Magill6

  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, United Kingdom
  • 2Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BZ, United Kingdom
  • 3Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Didcot, Oxon OX11 0QX, United Kingdom
  • 4Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford OX1 3PU, United Kingdom
  • 5Scottish Universities Research/Reactor Centre, East Kilbride, Glasgow G75 0QU, United Kingdom
  • 6European Commission, Institute for Transuranium Elements, Postfach 2340, D-76125 Karlsruhe, Germany

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