Relativistic laser piston model: Ponderomotive ion acceleration in dense plasmas using ultraintense laser pulses

Schlegel, T.; Naumova, N.; Tikhonchuk, V. T.; Labaune, C.; Sokolov, I. V.; Mourou, G.
August 2009
Physics of Plasmas;Aug2009, Vol. 16 Issue 8, p083103
Academic Journal
Laser ponderomotive force at superhigh intensities provides an efficient ion acceleration in bulk dense targets and evacuates a channel enabling further laser beam propagation. The developed quasistationary model of a laser piston—a double layer structure supported by the radiation pressure—predicts the general parameters of the acceleration process in homogeneous and inhomogeneous overdense plasmas. Particle-in-cell simulations confirm the estimated characteristics in a wide range of laser intensities and ion densities and show advantages of circularly polarized laser pulses. Two nonstationary effects are identified in the simulations. First, oscillations of the piston velocity and of the thickness of the ion charge separation layer broaden the energy spectrum of accelerated ions. Second, the electrons accelerated toward the incoming laser wave emit strong high-frequency radiation, enabling a cooling effect, which helps to sustain high charge neutrality in the piston and to maintain an efficient ion acceleration.


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