Ion Acceleration by Collisionless Shocks in High-Intensity-Laser–Underdense-Plasma Interaction

M. S. Wei, S. P. D. Mangles, Z. Najmudin, B. Walton, A. Gopal, M. Tatarakis, A. E. Dangor, E. L. Clark, R. G. Evans, S. Fritzler, R. J. Clarke, C. Hernandez-Gomez, D. Neely, W. Mori, M. Tzoufras, and K. Krushelnick
Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 155003 – Published 7 October 2004

Abstract

Ion acceleration by the interaction of an ultraintense short-pulse laser with an underdense-plasma has been studied at intensities up to 3×1020W/cm2. Helium ions having a maximum energy of 13.2±1.0MeV were measured at an angle of 100° from the laser propagation direction. The maximum ion energy scaled with plasma density as ne0.70±0.05. Two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations suggest that multiple collisionless shocks are formed at high density. The interaction of shocks is responsible for the observed plateau structure in the ion spectrum and leads to an enhanced ion acceleration beyond that possible by the ponderomotive potential of the laser alone.

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  • Received 24 February 2004

DOI:https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.93.155003

©2004 American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

M. S. Wei1, S. P. D. Mangles1, Z. Najmudin1, B. Walton1, A. Gopal1, M. Tatarakis1,*, A. E. Dangor1, E. L. Clark1,2, R. G. Evans1,2, S. Fritzler3, R. J. Clarke4, C. Hernandez-Gomez4, D. Neely4, W. Mori5, M. Tzoufras5, and K. Krushelnick1

  • 1Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, London, SW7 2BZ, United Kingdom
  • 2Plasma Physics Department, Atomic Weapons Establishment plc, Aldermaston, Reading RG7 4PR, United Kingdom
  • 3Laboratoire d’Optique Appliquée, École Polytechnique, ENSTA, Palaiseau, France
  • 4Central Laser Facility, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Oxon, OX11 0QX, United Kingdom
  • 5Department of Physics and Astronomy and of Electrical Engineering, UCLA, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA

  • *Present address: Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Department of Electronics Engineering, Chania, Crete, Greece

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Vol. 93, Iss. 15 — 8 October 2004

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