Simulations of stable compact proton beam acceleration from a two-ion-species ultrathin foil

Yu, T. P.; Pukhov, A.; Shvets, G.; Chen, M.; Ratliff, T. H.; Yi, S. A.; Khudik, V.
April 2011
Physics of Plasmas;Apr2011, Vol. 18 Issue 4, p043110
Academic Journal
We report stable laser-driven proton beam acceleration from ultrathin foils consisting of two ion species: heavier carbon ions and lighter protons. Multidimensional particle-in-cell simulations show that the radiation pressure leads to very fast and complete spatial separation of the species. The laser pulse does not penetrate the carbon ion layer, avoiding the proton Rayleigh-Taylor (RT)-like instability. Ultimately, the carbon ions are heated and spread extensively in space. In contrast, protons always ride on the front of the carbon ion cloud, forming a compact high quality bunch. We introduce a simple three-interface model to interpret the instability suppression in the proton layer. The model is backed by simulations of various compound foils such as carbon-deuterium and carbon-tritium foils. The effects of the carbon ions' charge state on proton acceleration are also investigated. It is shown that with the decrease of the carbon ion charge state, both the RT-like instability and the Coulomb explosion degrade the energy spectrum of the protons. Finally, full 3D simulations are performed to demonstrate the robustness of the stable two-ion-species regime.


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