Generation of GeV ion bunches from high-intensity laser-target interactions

Davis, J.; Petrov, G. M.
February 2009
Physics of Plasmas;Feb2009, Vol. 16 Issue 2, pN.PAG
Academic Journal
The formation of near GeV light ions from the interaction of an intense ultrashort pulse laser with thin planar targets is investigated theoretically. The study is done with a two-dimensional relativistic electromagnetic particle-in-cell model for peak laser intensities exceeding 1025 W/m2 (1021 W/cm2), laser pulse duration of 40 fs (full width at half maximum), and wavelength of 1 μm. A set of uniform targets (H, LiH, and CH2) and double-layer targets (Li–CH2 and Au–CH2) is employed. Targets with realistic parameters have been chosen: effective thickness of 1.2 μm, electron density of (0.8–6)×1029 m-3, and areal electron density of (1–7)×1023 m-2. The energy absorption, conversion efficiency of laser energy into proton kinetic energy, and maximum proton energy are studied as a function of laser fluence, and the potential of each target to achieve the goal of generating proton beams with energy in the GeV range is discussed. The most promising targets are made of low-Z material (lithium). GeV protons from ∼1 μm thick LiH foil can be generated at laser intensity I0≅1027 W/m2 (1023 W/cm2) and laser fluence F0≅40 J/μm2, just at the leading edge of modern laser systems. Other light ions, such as Li3+, C6+, and Al13+, can be accelerated to GeV energy with existing laser systems at laser fluence of 10–20 J/μm2.


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