Journal of Instrumentation 7 (2012)
Focal aberrations of large-aperture highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) crystals in von-Hàmos geometry are investigated by experimental and computational methods. A mosaic HOPG crystal film of 100 μm thickness diffracts 8 keV x-rays. This thickness is smaller than the absorption depth of the symmetric 004-reflection, which amounts to 257 μm. Cylindrically bent crystals with 110mm radius of curvature and up to 100 mm collection width produce a X-shaped halo around the focus. This feature vanishes when the collection aperture is reduced, but axial spectral profiles show that the resolution is not affected. X-ray topography reveals significant inhomogeneous crystallite domains of 2±1mm diameter along the entire crystal. Rocking curves shift by about ±20arcmin between domains, while their full width at half-maximum varies between 30 and 50 arcmin. These inhomogeneities are not imprinted at the focal spot, since the monochromatically reflecting area of the crystal is large compared to inhomogeneities. Ray-tracing calculations using a Monte-Carlo-based algorithm developed for mosaic crystals reproduce the X-shaped halo in the focal plane, stemming from the mosaic defocussing in the non-dispersive direction in combination with large apertures. The best achievable resolution is found by analyzing a diversity of rocking curve widths, source sizes and crystal thicknesses for 8 keV x-rays to be ΔE/E ∼ 10-4. Finally a general analytic expression for the shape of the aberration is derived. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd and Sissa Medialab srl.
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.
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.
XUV spectroscopic characterization of warm dense aluminum plasmas generated by the free-electron-laser FLASH
Laser and Particle Beams 30 (2012) 45-56
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 between 10 13 and 10 17 W/cm 2. We investigate the absorption and temporal evolution of the sample under irradiation by use of XUV and optical spectroscopy. We discuss the origin of saturable absorption, radiative decay, bremsstrahlung and atomic and ionic line emission. Our experimental results are in good agreement with simulations. © 2012 Cambridge University Press.
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 1507 (2012) 193-198
The generation of GeV-scale electron beams in the plasma channel formed in a gas-filled capillary discharge waveguide is investigated. Electron beams with energies above 900 MeV and with root-mean-square divergence of 3.5 mrad are observed for plasma densities of 2.15 × 1018 cm-3 and a peak input laser power of only 55 TW. The variation of the electron energy with the plasma density is measured and found to exhibit a maximum at plasma densities for which the dephasing length approximately matches the length of the plasma channel. Injection and acceleration of electrons at the relatively low plasma density of 3.2 × 1017 cm-3 is observed. The energy spectra of the generated electron beams are shown to exhibit good shot-to-shot reproducibility, with the observed variations attributable to the measured shot-to-shot jitter of the laser parameters. Two methods for correcting for the effects on the measured energy spectrum of off-axis electron beam propagation are investigated. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Physics (2012)
High Energy Density Physics 8 (2012) 38-45
Collisions of high Mach number flows occur frequently in astrophysics, and the resulting shock waves are responsible for the properties of many astrophysical phenomena, such as supernova remnants, Gamma Ray Bursts and jets from Active Galactic Nuclei. Because of the low density of astrophysical plasmas, the mean free path due to Coulomb collisions is typically very large. Therefore, most shock waves in astrophysics are "collisionless", since they form due to plasma instabilities and self-generated magnetic fields. Laboratory experiments at the laser facilities can achieve the conditions necessary for the formation of collisionless shocks, and will provide a unique avenue for studying the nonlinear physics of collisionless shock waves. We are performing a series of experiments at the Omega and Omega-EP lasers, in Rochester, NY, with the goal of generating collisionless shock conditions by the collision of two high-speed plasma flows resulting from laser ablation of solid targets using ∼10 16 W/cm 2 laser irradiation. The experiments will aim to answer several questions of relevance to collisionless shock physics: the importance of the electromagnetic filamentation (Weibel) instabilities in shock formation, the self-generation of magnetic fields in shocks, the influence of external magnetic fields on shock formation, and the signatures of particle acceleration in shocks. Our first experiments using Thomson scattering diagnostics studied the plasma state from a single foil and from double foils whose flows collide "head-on" Our data showed that the flow velocity and electron density were 10 8 cm/s and 10 19 cm -3, respectively, where the Coulomb mean free path is much larger than the size of the interaction region. Simulations of our experimental conditions show that weak Weibel mediated current filamentation and magnetic field generation were likely starting to occur. This paper presents the results from these first Omega experiments. © 2011.
Physical Review Special Topics - Accelerators and Beams 14 (2011)
The longitudinal coherence of free-electron laser (FEL) radiation can be enhanced by seeding the FEL with high harmonics of an optical laser pulse. The radiation produced by high-harmonic generation (HHG), however, has a fast-varying temporal profile that can violate the slowly varying envelope approximation and limited frequency window that is employed in conventional free-electron laser simulation codes. Here we investigate the implications of violating this approximation on the accuracy of simulations. On the basis of both analytical considerations and 1D numerical studies, it is concluded that, for most realistic scenarios, conventional FEL codes are capable of accurately simulating the FEL process even when the seed radiation violates the slowly varying envelope approximation. We additionally discuss the significance of filtering the harmonic content of broadband HHG seeds. © 2011 American Physical Society.
In situ x-ray diffraction measurements of the c/a ratio in the high-pressure epsilon phase of shock-compressed polycrystalline iron
PRB American Physical Society 83 (2011) 144114-
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.
Time-resolved plasma temperature measurements in a laser-triggered hydrogen-filled capillary discharge waveguide
Plasma Sources Science and Technology 20 (2011)
Temporally resolved, spatially integrated measurements of the temperature of the plasma channel formed by a hydrogen-filled discharge capillary waveguide are presented. Plasma temperatures of 4-7 eV are measured for peak discharge currents between 80 and 150 A. It is demonstrated that laser-triggering the capillary discharge enables capillary discharges with a peak current as low as 23 A to be driven, reducing the plasma temperature to approximately 3 eV. This plasma temperature meets the requirements of a recently proposed soft x-ray recombination laser. © 2011 IOP Publishing Ltd.
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.
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.
INTERNATIONAL TOPICAL CONFERENCE ON PLASMA SCIENCE: STRONGLY COUPLED ULTRA-COLD AND QUANTUM PLASMAS 1421 (2011)