EAS Publications Series 58 (2012) 23-26
Magnetic field generation in the Universe is still an open problem. Possible mechanisms involve the Weibel instability, due to anisotropic phase-space distributions, as well as the Biermann battery, due to misaligned density and temperature gradients. These mechanisms can be reproduced in scaled laboratory experiments. In this contribution we estimate the relative importance of these two processes and explore the laser-energy requirements for producing Weibel dominated shocks. © The Author(s) 2013.
Nanosecond white-light Laue diffraction measurements of dislocation microstructure in shock-compressed single-crystal copper.
Nat Commun 3 (2012) 1224-
Under uniaxial high-stress shock compression it is believed that crystalline materials undergo complex, rapid, micro-structural changes to relieve the large applied shear stresses. Diagnosing the underlying mechanisms involved remains a significant challenge in the field of shock physics, and is critical for furthering our understanding of the fundamental lattice-level physics, and for the validation of multi-scale models of shock compression. Here we employ white-light X-ray Laue diffraction on a nanosecond timescale to make the first in situ observations of the stress relaxation mechanism in a laser-shocked crystal. The measurements were made on single-crystal copper, shocked along the  axis to peak stresses of order 50 GPa. The results demonstrate the presence of stress-dependent lattice rotations along specific crystallographic directions. The orientation of the rotations suggests that there is double slip on conjugate systems. In this model, the rotation magnitudes are consistent with defect densities of order 10(12) cm(-2).
Journal of Instrumentation 7 (2012)
We have developed an easy-to-use and reliable timing tool to determine the arrival time of an optical laser and a free electron laser (FEL) pulses within the jitter limitation. This timing tool can be used from XUV to X-rays and exploits high FELs intensities. It uses a shadowgraph technique where we optically (at 800 nm) image a plasma created by an intense XUV or X-ray FEL pulse on a transparent sample (glass slide) directly placed at the pump - probe sample position. It is based on the physical principle that the optical properties of the material are drastically changed when its free electron density reaches the critical density. At this point the excited glass sample becomes opaque to the optical laser pulse. The ultra-short and intense XUV or X-ray FEL pulse ensures that a critical electron density can be reached via photoionization and subsequent collisional ionization within the XUV or X-ray FEL pulse duration or even faster. This technique allows to determine the relative arrival time between the optical laser and the FEL pulses in only few single shots with an accuracy mainly limited by the optical laser pulse duration and the jitter between the FEL and the optical laser. Considering the major interest in pump-probe experiments at FEL facilities in general, such a femtosecond resolution timing tool is of utmost importance. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd and Sissa Medialab srl.
Physical Review Letters 109 (2012)
The x-ray intensities made available by x-ray free electron lasers (FEL) open up new x-ray matter interaction channels not accessible with previous sources. We report here on the resonant generation of Kα emission, that is to say the production of copious Kα radiation by tuning the x-ray FEL pulse to photon energies below that of the K edge of a solid aluminum sample. The sequential absorption of multiple photons in the same atom during the 80 fs pulse, with photons creating L-shell holes and then one resonantly exciting a K-shell electron into one of these holes, opens up a channel for the Kα production, as well as the absorption of further photons. We demonstrate rich spectra of such channels, and investigate the emission produced by tuning the FEL energy to the K-L transitions of those highly charged ions that have transition energies below the K edge of the cold material. The spectra are sensitive to x-ray intensity dependent opacity effects, with ions containing L-shell holes readily reabsorbing the Kα radiation. © 2012 American Physical Society.
Quasi-phase-matching high harmonic generation using trains of pulses produced using an array of birefringent plates.
Opt Express 20 (2012) 6236-6247
Quasi-phase-matched high harmonic generation using trains of up to 8 counter-propagating pulses is explored. For trains of up to 4 pulses the measured enhancement of the harmonic signal scales with the number of pulses N as (N + 1)², as expected. However, for trains with N > 4, no further enhancement of the harmonic signal is observed. This effect is ascribed to changes of the coherence length Lc within the generating medium. Techniques for overcoming the variation of Lc are discussed. The pressure dependence of quasi-phase-matching is investigated and the switch from true-phase-matching to quasi-phase-matching is observed.
Comparative merits of the memory function and dynamic local-field correction of the classical one-component plasma
PHYSICAL REVIEW E 85 (2012) ARTN 056407
AIP Conference Proceedings 1438 (2012) 61-64
We report on experiments aimed at the generation and characterization of solid density plasmas at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg. Aluminum samples were irradiated with XUV pulses at 13.5 nm wavelength (92 eV photon energy). The pulses with duration of a few tens of femtoseconds and pulse energy up to 100 μJ are focused to intensities ranging from 10 13 to 10 17 W/cm 2. We investigate the absorption and temporal evolution of the sample under irradiation by use of XUV spectroscopy. We discuss the origin of saturable absorption, radiative decay, bremsstrahlung and ionic line emission. Our experimental results are in good agreement with hydrodynamic simulations. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.
Characterizing counter-streaming interpenetrating plasmas relevant to astrophysical collisionless shocks
Physics of Plasmas 19 (2012)
A series of Omega experiments have produced and characterized high velocity counter-streaming plasma flows relevant for the creation of collisionless shocks. Single and double CH2 foils have been irradiated with a laser intensity of ∼ 1016 W/cm2. The laser ablated plasma was characterized 4 mm from the foil surface using Thomson scattering. A peak plasma flow velocity of 2000 km/s, an electron temperature of ∼ 110 eV, an ion temperature of ∼ 30 eV, and a density of ∼ 1018 cm -3 were measured in the single foil configuration. Significant increases in electron and ion temperatures were seen in the double foil geometry. The measured single foil plasma conditions were used to calculate the ion skin depth, c/ωpi ∼ 0.16 mm, the interaction length, lint, of ∼ 8 mm, and the Coulomb mean free path, λmfp ∼ 27 mm. With c/ωpi ≪ l int ≪λmfp, we are in a regime where collisionless shock formation is possible. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.
Testing quantum mechanics in non-Minkowski space-time with high power lasers and 4 th generation light sources
Scientific Reports 2 (2012)
A common misperception of quantum gravity is that it requires accessing energies up to the Planck scale of 10 19 GeV, which is unattainable from any conceivable particle collider. Thanks to the development of ultra-high intensity optical lasers, very large accelerations can be now the reached at their focal spot, thus mimicking, by virtue of the equivalence principle, a non Minkowski space-time. Here we derive a semiclassical extension of quantum mechanics that applies to different metrics, but under the assumption of weak gravity. We use our results to show that Thomson scattering of photons by uniformly accelerated electrons predicts an observable effect depending upon acceleration and local metric. In the laboratory frame, a broadening of the Thomson scattered x ray light from a fourth generation light source can be used to detect the modification of the metric associated to electrons accelerated in the field of a high power optical laser.
AIP Conference Proceedings 1426 (2012) 975-978
The lattice level strain measured using in situ x-ray diffraction during shock compression of rolled iron foils is used along with the pressure dependent elastic constants to estimate the dynamic strength of 1±1 GPa at 15 GPa. We examine these results in the context of the constant stress (Voigt) and constant strain (Ruess) limit of grain interaction, discussing the implications at the lattice level. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.
Nature 481 (2012) 480-483
The standard model for the origin of galactic magnetic fields is through the amplification of seed fields via dynamo or turbulent processes to the level consistent with present observations. Although other mechanisms may also operate, currents from misaligned pressure and temperature gradients (the Biermann battery process) inevitably accompany the formation of galaxies in the absence of a primordial field. Driven by geometrical asymmetries in shocks associated with the collapse of protogalactic structures, the Biermann battery is believed to generate tiny seed fields to a level of about 10 -21 gauss (refs 7, 8). With the advent of high-power laser systems in the past two decades, a new area of research has opened in which, using simple scaling relations, astrophysical environments can effectively be reproduced in the laboratory. Here we report the results of an experiment that produced seed magnetic fields by the Biermann battery effect. We show that these results can be scaled to the intergalactic medium, where turbulence, acting on timescales of around 700 million years, can amplify the seed fields sufficiently to affect galaxy evolution. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
Physical Review Letters 109 (2012)
We have used the Linac Coherent Light Source to generate solid-density aluminum plasmas at temperatures of up to 180 eV. By varying the photon energy of the x rays that both create and probe the plasma, and observing the K-α fluorescence, we can directly measure the position of the K edge of the highly charged ions within the system. The results are found to disagree with the predictions of the extensively used Stewart-Pyatt model, but are consistent with the earlier model of Ecker and Kröll, which predicts significantly greater depression of the ionization potential. © 2012 American Physical Society.
High Energy Density Physics 8 (2012) 322-328
We report the results of benchmark FLASH magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations of experiments conducted by the University of Oxford High Energy Density Laboratory Astrophysics group and its collaborators at the Laboratoire pour l'Utilisation des Lasers Intenses (LULI). In these experiments, a long-pulse laser illuminates a target in a chamber filled with Argon gas, producing shock waves that generate magnetic fields via the Biermann battery mechanism. We first outline the implementation of 2D cylindrical geometry in the unsplit MHD solver in FLASH and present results of verification tests. We then describe the results of benchmark 2D cylindrical MHD simulations of the LULI experiments using FLASH that explore the impact of external fields along with the possibility of magnetic field amplification by turbulence that is associated with the shock waves and that is induced by a grid placed in the gas-filled chamber. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Physical Review Letters 109 (2012)
The Fermi-degenerate plasma conditions created in liquid deuterium by a laser-ablation - driven shock wave were probed with noncollective, spectrally resolved, inelastic x-ray Thomson scattering employing Cl Lyα line emission at 2.96 keV. These first x-ray Thomson scattering measurements of the microscopic properties of shocked deuterium show an inferred spatially averaged electron temperature of 8±5 eV, an electron density of 2.2(±0.5)×1023 cm-3, and an ionization of 0.8 (-0.25, +0.15). Two-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations using equation-of-state models suited for the extreme parameters occurring in inertial confinement fusion research and planetary interiors are consistent with the experimental results. © 2012 American Physical Society.
Revealing multiphoton resonant ionization in solid density plasmas with an x-ray free electron laser
2012 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, CLEO 2012 (2012)
Interaction of intense x-ray and solid density Al plasma is studied via K-shell emission spectroscopy. A high fluence, high-intensity x-ray pulse from an x-ray free-electron laser unveils multiphoton ionization pathway and drives hidden resonances. © 2012 OSA.
Nature Physics (2012)
Quasi-phase-matching of high-order-harmonic generation using polarization beating in optical waveguides
Phys Rev A 85 (2012) 053823
A scheme for quasi-phase-matching high-harmonic generation is proposed in which polarization beating within a hollow core birefringent waveguide modulates the generation of harmonics. The evolution of the polarization of a laser pulse propagating in a birefringent waveguide is calculated and is shown to periodically modulate the harmonic generation process. The optimum conditions for achieving quasi-phase-matching using this scheme are explored and the growth of the harmonic intensity as a function of experimental parameters is investigated.
(2012) UK Patent Application GB1207963.8
A high harmonic optical generator comprising a laser arrangement and an optical waveguide, wherein the laser arrangement is configured to couple a beam of linearly polarized radiation at a fundamental frequency into the optical waveguide to provide a beam of optical driving radiation that propagates along a propagation axis of the optical waveguide, the optical waveguide has a hollow core for a gaseous harmonic generation medium for generation of high harmonics of the fundamental frequency, and the generator is configured for the driving radiation to have a polarization ellipticity that periodically varies along the propagation axis of the optical waveguide.