Observation of K-Shell Soft X Ray Emission of Nitrogen Irradiated by XUV-Free Electron Laser FLASH at Intensities Greater than 1016 W/cm2
Contributions to Plasma Physics 51 (2011) 284-287
In the past few years, the development of light sources of the 4th generation, namely XUV/X-ray Free Electron Lasers provides to the scientific community outstanding tools to investigate matter under extreme conditions never obtained in laboratories so far. As theory is at its infancy, the analysis of matter via the self-emission of the target is of central importance. The characterization of such dense matter is possible if photons can escape the medium. As the absorption of K-shell X-ray transitions is minimal, it plays a key role in this study. We report here the first successful observation of K-shell emission of Nitrogen at 430 eV using an XUV-Free Electron Laser to irradiate solid Boron Nitride targets under exceptional conditions: photon energy of 92 eV, pulse duration of ∼20 fs, micro focusing leading to intensities larger than 1016 W/cm2. Using a Bragg crystal of THM coupled to a CCD, we resolved K-shell line emission from different charge states. We demonstrate that the spectroscopic data allow characterization of electron heating processes when X-ray radiation is interacting with solid matter. As energy transport is non-trivial because the light source is monochromatic, these results have an important impact on the theory. © 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Production of picosecond, kilojoule, and petawatt laser pulses via Raman amplification of nanosecond pulses
Physical Review Letters 107 (2011)
Raman amplification in plasma has been promoted as a means of compressing picosecond optical laser pulses to femtosecond duration to explore the intensity frontier. Here we show for the first time that it can be used, with equal success, to compress laser pulses from nanosecond to picosecond duration. Simulations show up to 60% energy transfer from pump pulse to probe pulse, implying that multikilojoule ultraviolet petawatt laser pulses can be produced using this scheme. This has important consequences for the demonstration of fast-ignition inertial confinement fusion. © 2011 American Physical Society.
Decay of cystalline order and equilibration during the solid-to-plasma transition induced by 20-fs microfocused 92-eV free-electron-laser pulses.
Phys Rev Lett 106 (2011) 164801-
We have studied a solid-to-plasma transition by irradiating Al foils with the FLASH free electron laser at intensities up to 10(16) W/cm(2). Intense XUV self-emission shows spectral features that are consistent with emission from regions of high density, which go beyond single inner-shell photoionization of solids. Characteristic features of intrashell transitions allowed us to identify Auger heating of the electrons in the conduction band occurring immediately after the absorption of the XUV laser energy as the dominant mechanism. A simple model of a multicharge state inverse Auger effect is proposed to explain the target emission when the conduction band at solid density becomes more atomiclike as energy is transferred from the electrons to the ions. This allows one to determine, independent of plasma simulations, the electron temperature and density just after the decay of crystalline order and to characterize the early time evolution.
INTERNATIONAL TOPICAL CONFERENCE ON PLASMA SCIENCE: STRONGLY COUPLED ULTRA-COLD AND QUANTUM PLASMAS 1421 (2011)
In-situ determination of dispersion and resolving power in simultaneous multiple-angle XUV spectroscopy
JOURNAL OF INSTRUMENTATION 6 (2011) ARTN P10001
In-situ determination of dispersion and resolving power in simultaneous multiple-angle XUV spectroscopy
Journal of Instrumentation 6 (2011)
We report on the simultaneous determination of non-linear dispersion functions and resolving power of three flat-field XUV grating spectrometers. A moderate-intense short-pulse infrared laser is focused onto technical aluminum which is commonly present as part of the experimental setup. In the XUV wavelength range of 10-19 nm, the spectrometers are calibrated using Al-Mg plasma emission lines. This cross-calibration is performed in-situ in the very same setup as the actual main experiment. The results are in excellent agreement with ray-tracing simulations. We show that our method allows for precise relative and absolute calibration of three different XUV spectrometers. © 2011 IOP Publishing Ltd and SISSA.
Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys 83 (2011) 015401-
We show that the hydrodynamic description can be applied to modeling the ionic response in dense plasmas for a wide range of length scales that are experimentally accessible. Using numerical simulations for the Yukawa model, we find that the maximum wave number k(max) at which the hydrodynamic description applies is independent of the coupling strength, given by k(max)λ(s)≃0.43, where λ(s) is the ionic screening length. Our results show that the hydrodynamic description can be used for interpreting x-ray scattering data from fourth generation light sources and high power lasers. In addition, our investigation sheds new light on how the domain of validity of the hydrodynamic description depends on both the microscopic properties and the thermodynamic state of fluids in general.
Canadian Journal of Physics 89 (2011) 647-651
The production of X-rays from electron transitions into K-shell vacancies (Kα,β) emission) is a well-known process in atomic physics and has been extensively studied as a plasma diagnostic in low-and mid-Z materials. However, X-ray spectra from near neutral high-Z ions are very complex, and their interpretation requires the use of state-of-the-art atomic calculations. In this experiment, the Titan laser system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was used to deliver an approximately 350 J laser pulse, with a 10 ps duration and a wavelength of 1054 nm, to a gold (Au) target. A transparent bent quartz crystal spectrometer with a hard X-ray energy window, ranging from 17 to 102 keV, was used to measure the emission spectrum. Kα1,α2 and Kβ1,γ1 transitions were observed over a range of target sizes. Additionally, a series of shots were conducted with a pre-ionizing long pulse (3 ns, 1-10 J, 527 nm) on the backside of the target. FLYCHK, an atomic non-LTE code, designed to provide ionization and population distributions, was used to model the experiment. K α/Kβ ratios were found to be in good agreement with the predicted value for room temperature Au targets. © 2011 Published by NRC Research Press.
Physics of Plasmas 18 (2011)
A new mechanism for the absorption of energy during the interaction between an ultra-intense laser pulse and a sharp-edged overdense plasma, which we term the zero vector potential (ZVP) mechanism, is presented. The ZVP-mechanism is a nonponderomotive absorption mechanism that should dominate in the interaction of very strong short laser pulses (a 0≫1) with overdense plasmas in the case of sharp density gradients. In the ZVP-mechanism the existence of moving zeroes in the vector potential of the relativistic skin layer is crucial to the generation of both fast electron bunches and coherent x-rays. We demonstrate that the laser energy is absorbed from the plasma on the attosecond timescale in the form of electron bunches with unprecedentedly short duration. The numerical simulations are able to validate all qualitative and quantitative aspects of the ZVP-mechanism. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.
Vibrational excitation induced by electron beam and cosmic rays in normal and superconductive aluminum bars
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment (2011)
TOF-OFF: A method for determining focal positions in tightly focused free-electron laser experiments by measurement of ejected ions
High Energy Density Physics 7 (2011) 336-342
Pulse intensities greater than 1017 Watt/cm2 were reached at the FLASH soft X-ray laser in Hamburg, Germany, using an off-axis parabolic mirror to focus 15 fs pulses of 5-70 μJ energy at 13.5 nm wavelength to a micron-sized spot. We describe the interaction of such pulses with niobium and vanadium targets and their deuterides. The beam produced craters in the solid targets, and we measured the kinetic energy of ions ejected from these craters. Ions with several keV kinetic energy were observed from craters approaching 5 μm in depth when the sample was at best focus. We also observed the onset of saturation in both ion acceleration and ablation with pulse intensities exceeding 1016 W/cm2, when the highest detected ion energies and the crater depths tend to saturate with increasing intensity. A general difficulty in working with micron and sub-micron focusing optics is finding the exact focus of the beam inside a vacuum chamber. Here we propose a direct method to measure the focal position to a resolution better than the Rayleigh length. The method is based on the correlation between the energies of ejected ions and the physical dimensions of the craters. We find that the focus position can be quickly determined from the ion time-of-flight (TOF) data as the target is scanned through the expected focal region. The method does not require external access to the sample or venting the vacuum chamber. Profile fitting employed to analyze the TOF data can extend resolution beyond the actual scanning step size. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Saturated ablation in metal hydrides and acceleration of protons and deuterons to keV energies with a soft-x-ray laser.
Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys 83 (2011) 016403-
Studies of materials under extreme conditions have relevance to a broad area of research, including planetary physics, fusion research, materials science, and structural biology with x-ray lasers. We study such extreme conditions and experimentally probe the interaction between ultrashort soft x-ray pulses and solid targets (metals and their deuterides) at the FLASH free-electron laser where power densities exceeding 10(17) W/cm(2) were reached. Time-of-flight ion spectrometry and crater analysis were used to characterize the interaction. The results show the onset of saturation in the ablation process at power densities above 10(16) W/cm(2). This effect can be linked to a transiently induced x-ray transparency in the solid by the femtosecond x-ray pulse at high power densities. The measured kinetic energies of protons and deuterons ejected from the surface reach several keV and concur with predictions from plasma-expansion models. Simulations of the interactions were performed with a nonlocal thermodynamic equilibrium code with radiation transfer. These calculations return critical depths similar to the observed crater depths and capture the transient surface transparency at higher power densities.
High Energy Density Physics 7 (2011) 105-109
Polarisation sensitive emission spectroscopy measurements are reported for a petawatt laser-solid target interaction at intensities up to 5 × 1020 W cm-2. These measurements were single-shot and used pairs of highly-orientated graphite spectrometers to resolve the sulphur Ly-α doublet. The sulphur Ly-α1 component shows a large positive polarisation indicative of a low energy electron beam in the plasma, the Ly-α2 component acts as a cross-spectrometer calibration. The measurements show a significant anisotropic or beam-like component to a cold return current. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Decay of Cystalline Order and Equilibration during the Solid-to-Plasma Transition Induced by 20-fs Microfocused 92-eV Free-Electron-Laser Pulses
PHYSICAL REVIEW SPECIAL TOPICS-ACCELERATORS AND BEAMS 14 (2011) ARTN 164801
38th EPS Conference on Plasma Physics 2011, EPS 2011 - Europhysics Conference Abstracts 35 2 (2011) 1484-1487
A detailed knowledge of the physical phenomena underlying the transport of fast electrons generated in high-intensity laser-matter interactions is of fundamental importance for the fast ignition scheme for inertial confinement fusion. The fast electron currents largely exceed the Alfven limit, therefore a balancing return current is required to support the propagation of the fast electron beam in the target medium. An experimental study aimed at investigating the role of the return current on the dynamics of the fast electron beam was carried out with the Vulcan Petawatt beam. Two counter-propagating electron beams were generated by double-sided irradiation of a layered target containing a 5 micron thick Ti layer. Information on the energy coupling of the fast electron beam to the Ti layer was retrieved through X-ray measurements. In particular, high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy of the Ti emission lines was performed in the spectral range from 4.4 to 5.1 keV including the Lyα, the Heα and the Kα line. Spectra were acquired for double-sided irradiation with different timings between the two laser beams as well as for single-sided irradiation. The recorded spectra indicate a higher target temperature for a precise timing between the two beams in agreement with simulation results.
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering 8080 (2011)
A detailed knowledge of the physical phenomena underlying the generation and the transport of fast electrons generated in high-intensity laser-matter interactions is of fundamental importance for the fast ignition scheme for inertial confinement fusion. Here we report on an experiment carried out with the VULCAN Petawatt beam and aimed at investigating the role of collisional return currents in the dynamics of the fast electron beam. To that scope, in the experiment counter-propagating electron beams were generated by double-sided irradiation of layered target foils containing a Ti layer. The experimental results were obtained for different time delays between the two laser beams as well as for single-sided irradiation of the target foils. The main diagnostics consisted of two bent mica crystal spectrometers placed at either side of the target foil. High-resolution X-ray spectra of the Ti emission lines in the range from the Lyα to the Kα line were recorded. In addition, 2D X-ray images with spectral resolution were obtained by means of a novel diagnostic technique, the energy-encoded pin-hole camera, based on the use of a pin-hole array equipped with a CCD detector working in single-photon regime. The spectroscopic measurements suggest a higher target temperature for well-aligned laser beams and a precise timing between the two beams. The experimental results are presented and compared to simulation results. © 2011 SPIE.
High Energy Density Physics 7 (2011) 225-229
We review recent experimental results on the path to producing electron-positron pair plasmas using lasers. Relativistic pair-plasmas and jets are believed to exist in many astrophysical objects and are often invoked to explain energetic phenomena related to Gamma Ray Bursts and Black Holes. On earth, positrons from radioactive isotopes or accelerators are used extensively at low energies (sub-MeV) in areas related to surface science positron emission tomography and basic antimatter science. Experimental platforms capable of producing the high-temperature pair-plasma and high-flux jets required to simulate astrophysical positron conditions have so far been absent. In the past few years, we performed extensive experiments generating positrons with intense lasers where we found that relativistic electron and positron jets are produced by irradiating a solid gold target with an intense picosecond laser pulse. The positron temperatures in directions parallel and transverse to the beam both exceeded 0.5 MeV, and the density of electrons and positrons in these jets are of order 1016 cm-3 and 1013 cm-3, respectively. With the increasing performance of high-energy ultra-short laser pulses, we expect that a high-density, up to 1018 cm-3, relativistic pair-plasma is achievable, a novel regime of laboratory-produced hot dense matter. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Electron bunch length measurements from laser-accelerated electrons using single-shot thz time-domain interferometry
Physical Review Letters 104 (2010)
Laser-plasma wakefield-based electron accelerators are expected to deliver ultrashort electron bunches with unprecedented peak currents. However, their actual pulse duration has never been directly measured in a single-shot experiment. We present measurements of the ultrashort duration of such electron bunches by means of THz time-domain interferometry. With data obtained using a 0.5 J, 45 fs, 800 nm laser and a ZnTe-based electro-optical setup, we demonstrate the duration of laser-accelerated, quasimonoenergetic electron bunches [best fit of 32 fs (FWHM) with a 90% upper confidence level of 38 fs] to be shorter than the drive laser pulse, but similar to the plasma period. © 2010 The American Physical Society.
Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics 81 (2010)
We employ a pseudopotential approach to investigate the screening of ionic cores in partially ionized plasmas. Here, the effect of the tightly bound electrons is condensed into an effective potential between the (free) valence electrons and the ionic cores. Even for weak electron-ion coupling, the corresponding screening clouds show strong modifications from the Debye result for elements heavier than helium. Modifications of the theoretically predicted x-ray scattering signal and implications on measurements are discussed. © 2010 The American Physical Society.
High Energy Density Physics 6 (2010) 109-112
The FLASH XUV-free electron laser has been used to irradiate solid samples at intensities of the order 1016 W cm-2 at a wavelength of 13.5 nm. The subsequent time integrated XUV emission was observed with a grating spectrometer. The electron temperature inferred from plasma line ratios was in the range 5-8 eV with electron density in the range 1021-1022 cm-3. These results are consistent with the saturation of absorption through bleaching of the L-edge by intense photo-absorption reported in an earlier publication. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.