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.
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.
Nature Physics 7 (2011) 87-92
Contemporary high-power laser systems make use of solid-state laser technology to reach petawatt pulse powers. The breakdown threshold for optical components in these systems, however, demands metre-scale beams. Raman amplification of laser beams promises a breakthrough by the use of much smaller amplifying media, that is, millimetre-diameter plasmas, but so far only 60 GW peak powers have been obtained in the laboratory, far short of the desired multipetawatt regime. Here we show, through the first large-scale multidimensional particle-in-cell simulations of this process, that multipetawatt peak powers can be reached, but only in a narrow parameter window dictated by the growth of plasma instabilities. Raman amplification promises reduced cost and complexity of intense lasers, enabling much greater access to higher-intensity regimes for scientific and industrial applications. Furthermore, we show that this process scales to short wavelengths, enabling compression of X-ray free-electron laser pulses to attosecond duration. © 2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science 39 (2011) 2622-2623
Contemporary high-power laser systems make use of solid-state laser technology to reach petawatt pulse powers. The breakdown threshold for optical components in these systems, however, demands beam diameters up to 1 m. Raman amplification of laser beams promises a breakthrough by the use of much smaller amplifying media, i.e., millimeter-diameter-wide plasmas. Through the first large-scale multidimensional particle-in-cell simulations of this process, we have identified the parameter regime where multipetawatt peak laser powers can be reached, while the influence of damaging laser-plasma instabilities is only minor. Snapshots of the probe laser pulse being amplified, generated using state-of-the-art visualization techniques, are presented. © 2006 IEEE.
IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science 39 (2011) 2822-2823
Measurements of extreme electrostatic and magnetic fields are of interest for the study of high-energy-density plasmas. Results of proton deflectometry of cone-wire targets that are of interest to fast-ignition inertial confinement fusion are presented. © 2006 IEEE.
INTERNATIONAL TOPICAL CONFERENCE ON PLASMA SCIENCE: STRONGLY COUPLED ULTRA-COLD AND QUANTUM PLASMAS 1421 (2011)
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.
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.
High Energy Density Physics 7 (2011) 240-246
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.
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.
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.
Physical Review Letters 106 (2011)
Experiments were performed using the Omega EP laser, operating at 740 J of energy in 8 ps (90 TW), which provides extreme conditions relevant to fast ignition studies. A carbon and hydrogen plasma plume was used as the underdense target and the interaction of the laser pulse propagating and channeling through the plasma was imaged using proton radiography. The early time expansion, channel evolution, filamentation, and self-correction of the channel was measured on a single shot via this method. A channel wall modulation was observed and attributed to surface waves. After around 50 ps, the channel had evolved to show bubblelike structures, which may be due to postsoliton remnants. © 2011 American Physical Society.
A search for line intensity enhancements in the far-UV spectra of active late-type stars arising from opacity
Astronomy & Astrophysics 534 (2011) A71-A71
In-situ determination of dispersion and resolving power in simultaneous multiple-angle XUV spectroscopy
JOURNAL OF INSTRUMENTATION 6 (2011) ARTN P10001
Present states and future prospect of fast ignition realization experiment (FIREX) with Gekko and LFEX Lasers at ILE
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment 653 (2011) 84-88
The fast ignition realization experiment (FIREX) project is progressing. The new short pulse laser system, LFEX laser, has been completely assembled and one of the four beamlets is now in operation. A fast-ignition experiment was performed using this single short pulse combined with the Gekko XII implosion laser. The energy of the GXII implosion laser was about 2 kJ and the pulse width was 1.5 ns. The energy of the LFEX laser was increased upto 800 J and two pulse durations 5 and 1.6 ps were compared. Targets were deuterated plastic shells with gold cones. It was found that the neutron yield was increased by a factor of 30 as a result of the fast electron-induced heating in LFEX 1.6 ps shot. The estimated coupling efficiency between the LFEX laser pulse and the compressed fuel was low (less than 5%). This may be due to pre-plasma formed by light arriving at the target before the main laser pulse. Further investigations and attempts to overcome these problems are now in progress. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science 39 (2011) 2616-2617
The proton probing technique is used to image quasi-static electromagnetic fields present in the wake of a high-intensity short-pulse laser propagating through an underdense plasma. Bubblelike field structures form along the channel filaments and expand in time. © 2006 IEEE.
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering 8077 (2011)
The recent commissioning of a X-ray free-electron laser triggered an extensive research in the area of X-ray ablation of high-Z, high-density materials. Such compounds should be used to shorten an effective attenuation length for obtaining clean ablation imprints required for the focused beam analysis. Compounds of lead (Z=82) represent the materials of first choice. In this contribution, single-shot ablation thresholds are reported for PbWO4 and PbI2 exposed to ultra-short pulses of extreme ultraviolet radiation and X-rays at FLASH and LCLS facilities, respectively. Interestingly, the threshold reaches only 0.11 J/cm2 at 1.55 nm in lead tungstate although a value of 0.4 J/cm2 is expected according to the wavelength dependence of an attenuation length and the threshold value determined in the XUV spectral region, i.e., 79 mJ/cm2 at a FEL wavelength of 13.5 nm. Mechanisms of ablation processes are discussed to explain this discrepancy. Lead iodide shows at 1.55 nm significantly lower ablation threshold than tungstate although an attenuation length of the radiation is in both materials quite the same. Lower thermal and radiation stability of PbI2 is responsible for this finding. © 2011 SPIE.
Vibrational excitation induced by electron beam and cosmic rays in normal and superconductive aluminum bars
We report new measurements of the acoustic excitation of an Al5056 superconductive bar when hit by an electron beam, in a previously unexplored temperature range, down to 0.35 K. These data, analyzed together with previous results of the RAP experiment obtained for T > 0.54 K, show a vibrational response enhanced by a factor 4.9 with respect to that measured in the normal state. This enhancement explains the anomalous large signals due to cosmic rays previously detected in the NAUTILUS gravitational wave detector.