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.
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment (2011)
INTERNATIONAL TOPICAL CONFERENCE ON PLASMA SCIENCE: STRONGLY COUPLED ULTRA-COLD AND QUANTUM PLASMAS 1421 (2011)
High Energy Density Physics 7 (2011) 40-42
We reply to the comment by Iglesias [HEDP, XXX] regarding our implementation of a solid-state pseudopotential in a model for the calculation of the free--free opacity in warm-dense aluminum [HEDP 5(2009), 124-131]. Some further details are given describing the method used to determine the adjustable parameter in the pseudopotential and several important limitations are discussed. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
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.
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment 653 (2011) 137-139
Here we present results from ultra-intense experiments demonstrating the viability of polarization spectroscopy as a diagnostic of the electron return current and spatial anisotropy and distribution function of the fast electron beam. The measurements extend to ultra-relativistic intensities of 10 21 W cm-2, including laserplasma interaction regimes important for fast ignition studies, for example HiPER, and the development of secondary sources from next generation ultra-short pulse, ultra-intense laser facilities such as Astra-Gemini and ELI. As an in situ diagnostic, spectroscopic measurements are vital to understanding fast electron beams, enabling extrapolation of results to define fast ignition inertial confinement fusion and secondary source facilities. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Journal of Applied Physics 109 (2011)
We report on nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulations of single crystals of copper experiencing rapid shear strain. A model system, with periodic boundary conditions, which includes a single dislocation dipole is subjected to a total shear strain of close to 10 on time-scales ranging from the instantaneous to 50 ps. When the system is strained on a time-scale short compared with a phonon period, the initial total applied shear is purely elastic, and the eventual temperature rise in the system due to the subsequent plastic work can be determined from the initial elastic strain energy. The rate at which this plastic work occurs, and heat is generated, depends on the dislocation velocity, which itself is a function of shear stress. A determination of the stress-dependence of the dislocation velocity allows us to construct a simple analytic model for the temperature rise in the system as a function of strain rate, and this model is found to be in good agreement with the simulations. For the effective dislocation density within the simulations, 7.8 10 11 cm - 2, we find that applying the total shear strain on time-scales of a few tens of picoseconds greatly reduces the final temperature. We discuss these results in the context of the growing interest in producing high pressure, solid-state matter, by quasi-isentropic (rather than shock) compression. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.
Density fluctuations in the Yukawa one-component plasma: An accurate model for the dynamical structure factor
Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics 84 (2011)
Using numerical simulations, we investigate the equilibrium dynamics of a single-component fluid with Yukawa interaction potential. We show that, for a wide range of densities and temperatures, the dynamics of the system are in striking agreement with a simple model of generalized hydrodynamics. Since the Yukawa potential can describe the ion-ion interactions in a plasma, our results have significant applicability for both analyzing and interpreting the results of x-ray scattering data from high-power lasers and fourth-generation light sources. © 2011 American Physical Society.
EPL 94 (2011)
We develop a new theoretical approach that demonstrates the abilities of elastic X-ray scattering to yield thermodynamic, structural, and mixing properties of dense matter with multiple ion species. The novel decomposition of the electron structure factor in multi-component systems provides the basis to study dense mixtures as found in giant gas planets or during inertial confinement fusion. We show that the scattering signal differs significantly between single species, microscopic mixtures, and phase-separated fluids. Thus, these different phases can be distinguished experimentally via elastic X-ray scattering. © 2011 Europhysics Letters Association.
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.
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.
New Journal of Physics 12 (2010)
The role of plasma channels as waveguides for laser-wakefield accelerators is discussed in terms of the results of experiments performed with the Astra-Gemini laser, numerical simulations using the code WAKE, and the theory of self-focusing and self-guiding of intense laser beams. It is found that at a given electron density, electron beams can be accelerated using lower laser powers in a waveguide structure than in a gas-jet or cell. The transition between relativistically self-guided and channel-assisted guiding is seen in the simulations and in the behaviour of the production of electron beams. We also show that by improving the quality of the driving laser beam the threshold laser energy required to produce electron beams can be reduced by a factor of almost 2. The use of an aperture allows the production of a quasi-monoenergetic electron beam of energy 520 MeV with an input laser power of only 30 TW. © IOP Publishing Ltd and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.
High Energy Density Physics 6 (2010) 305-310
We calculate the static structure factor of dense multi-component plasmas. Large scale ab initio finite-temperature DFT molecular dynamics simulations are performed in order to cover the region where a consistent quantum treatment for the electrons is inevitable. Especially, the behavior at small wave numbers k can be inferred from the relation to the isothermal compressibility. Alternatively, the static structure factor is obtained by solving the integral equations for the pair correlation functions within the hypernetted chain (HNC) scheme. For this purpose we derive new effective two-particle quantum potentials for the interactions between the charge carriers from the full two-particle Slater sum by accounting for bound states. Comparison to the ab initio molecular dynamics simulations enables us to determine the short-range behavior of the effective electron-ion quantum potentials. Results for the static structure factor are presented for beryllium plasmas at solid density and at threefold compression. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.
AIP Conference Proceedings 1228 (2010) 295-300
Latest developments in the field of laser-wakefield accelerators (LWFAs) have led to relatively stable electron beams in terms of peak energy, charge, pointing and divergence from mmsized accelerators. Simulations and LWFA theory indicate that these beams have low transverse emittances and ultrashort bunch durations on the order of ∼ 10 fs. These features make LWFAs perfectly suitable for driving high-brightness X-ray undulator sources and free-electron lasers (FELs) on a university-laboratory scale.With the detection of soft-X-ray radiation from an undulator source driven by laser-wakefield accelerated electrons, we succeeded in achieving a first milestone on this path. The source delivers remarkably stable photon beams which is mainly due to the stable electron beam and our miniature magnetic quadrupole lenses, which significantly reduce its divergence and angular shot-to-shot variation. An increase in electron energy allows for compact, tunable, hard-Xray undulator sources. Improvements of the electron beams in terms of charge and energy spread will put table-top FELs within reach. © 2010 American Institute of Physids.
Physical Review Letters 105 (2010)
Laser-produced proton beams have been used to achieve ultrafast volumetric heating of carbon samples at solid density. The isochoric melting of carbon was probed by a scattering of x rays from a secondary laser-produced plasma. From the scattering signal, we have deduced the fraction of the material that was melted by the inhomogeneous heating. The results are compared to different theoretical approaches for the equation of state which suggests modifications from standard models. © 2010 The American Physical Society.
Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics Optical Society of American (OSA) 27 (2010) 763-772
Two techniques are demonstrated to produce ultrashort pulse trains capable of quasi-phase-matching highharmonic generation. The first technique makes use of an array of birefringent crystals and is shown to generate high-contrast pulse trains with constant pulse spacing. The second technique employs a grating-pair stretcher, a multiple-order wave plate, and a linear polarizer. Trains of up to 100 pulses are demonstrated with this technique, with almost constant inter-pulse separation. It is shown that arbitrary pulse separation can be achieved by introducing the appropriate dispersion. This principle is demonstrated by using an acousto-optic programmable dispersive filter to introduce third- and fourth-order dispersions leading to a linear and quadratic variation of the separation of pulses through the train. Chirped-pulse trains of this type may be used to quasi-phase-match high-harmonic generation in situations where the coherence length varies through the medium. © 2010 Optical Society of America.
Journal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics 12 (2010)
A method for generating non-uniformly spaced (chirped) trains of high-energy, high-contrast, femtosecond pulses is described and demonstrated. In this method a temporally stretched laser pulse is passed through an acousto-optic programmable dispersive filter (AOPDF), a birefringent plate, and a linear polarizer. It is demonstrated that linear and nonlinear variation of the pulse separation within the train may be controlled by changing respectively the third-and fourth-order dispersion introduced by the AOPDF. Programmable, non-uniform pulse trains of this type may find applications in quasi-phase matching high-harmonic generation. © 2010 IOP Publishing Ltd.
AIP Conference Proceedings 1228 (2010) 79-85
The detailed knowledge of fast electron energy transport following interaction with high-intensity, ultra-short laser pulses is a key area for secondary source generation for ELI. We demonstrate polarization spectroscopy at laser intensities up to 1021 Wcm-2. This is significant as it suggests that in situ emission spectroscopy may be used as an effective probe of fast electron velocity distributions in regimes relevant to electron transport in solid targets. Ly-α doublet emission of nickel (Z = 28) and sulphur (Z = 16) is observed to measure the degree of polarization from the Ly-α1 emission. Ly-α2 emission is unpolarized, and as such acts as a calibration source between spectrometers. The measured ratio of the X-ray σ-and π-polarization allows the possibility to infer the velocity distribution function of the fast electron beam. © 2010 American Institute of Physics.
J Phys Condens Matter 22 (2010) 065404-
In situ x-ray diffraction has been used to measure the shear strain (and thus strength) of single crystal copper shocked to 100 GPa pressures at strain rates over two orders of magnitude higher than those achieved previously. For shocks in the  direction there is a significant associated shear strain, while shocks in the  direction give negligible shear strain. We infer, using molecular dynamics simulations and VISAR (standing for 'velocity interferometer system for any reflector') measurements, that the strength of the material increases dramatically (to approximately 1 GPa) for these extreme strain rates.