Dr. Theodor Schlegel
Abstract: The energy deposition of ions in dense plasmas is a key process in inertial confinement fusion that determines the α-particle heating expected to trigger a burn wave in the hydrogen pellet and resulting in high thermonuclear gain. However, measurements of ion stopping in plasmas are scarce and mostly restricted to high ion velocities where theory agrees with the data. Here, we report experimental data at low projectile velocities near the Bragg peak, where the stopping force reaches its maximum. This parameter range features the largest theoretical uncertainties and conclusive data are missing until today. The precision of our measurements, combined with a reliable knowledge of the plasma parameters, allows to disprove several standard models for the stopping power for beam velocities typically encountered in inertial fusion. On the other hand, our data support theories that include a detailed treatment of strong ion-electron collisions.
Abstract: We apply Fourier-transform spectral interferometry (FTSI) to study the interaction of intense laser pulses with ultrathin targets. Ultrathin submicrometer-thick solid CH targets were shot at the PHELIX laser facility with an intensity in the mid to upper 10^19 W/cm2 range using an innovative double-pulse structure. The transmitted pulse structure was analyzed by FTSI and shows a transition from a relativistic transparency-dominated regime for targets thinner than 500 nm to a hole-boring-dominated laser-plasma interaction for thicker targets. The results also confirm that the inevitable preplasma expansion happening during the rising slope of the pulse, a few picoseconds before the maximum of the pulse is reached, cannot be neglected and plays a dominant role in laser-plasma interaction with ultrathin solid targets.
Abstract: Simulations have been performed to study the energy loss of carbon ions in a hot, laser-generated plasma in the velocity region of the stopping-power maximum. In this parameter range, discrepancies of up to 30% exist between the various stopping theories and hardly any experimental data are available. The considered plasma, created by irradiating a thin carbon foil with two high-energy laser beams, is fully-ionized with a temperature of nearly 200 eV. To study the interaction at the maximum stopping power, Monte-Carlo calculations of the ion charge state in the plasma are carried out at a projectile energy of 0.5 MeV per nucleon. The predictions of various stopping-power theories are compared and experimental campaigns are planned for a first-time theory benchmarking in this low-velocity range.
Abstract: The expansion of a semi-infinite plasma slab into vacuum is analyzed with a hydrodynamic model implying a steplike electron energy distribution function. Analytic expressions for the maximum ion energy and the related ion distribution function are derived and compared with one-dimensional numerical simulations. The choice of the specific non-Maxwellian initial electron energy distribution automatically ensures the conservation of the total energy of the system. The estimated ion energies may differ by an order of magnitude from the values obtained with an adiabatic expansion model supposing a Maxwellian electron distribution. Furthermore, good agreement with data from experiments using laser pulses of ultrashort durations τ_L ≤ 80 fs is found, while this is not the case when a hot Maxwellian electron distribution is assumed.
Abstract: The effective increase of the critical density associated with the interaction of relativistically intense laser pulses with overcritical plasmas, known as self-induced transparency, is revisited for the case of circular polarization. A comparison of particle-in-cell simulations to the predictions of a relativistic cold-fluid model for the transparency threshold demonstrates that kinetic effects, such as electron heating, can lead to a substantial increase of the effective critical density compared to cold-fluid theory. These results are interpreted by a study of separatrices in the single-electron phase space corresponding to dynamics in the stationary fields predicted by the cold-fluid model. It is shown that perturbations due to electron heating exceeding a certain finite threshold can force electrons to escape into the vacuum, leading to laser pulse propagation. The modification of the transparency threshold is linked to the temporal pulse profile, through its effect on electron heating.
Abstract: It is shown that the hydrodynamic model of a one-dimensional collisionless plasma expansion is contained in the kinetic description as a special case. This belongs to a specific choice for the electron distribution function. Moreover, the consequences of the use of the hydrodynamic approach regarding the temporal evolution of the electron phase space density are investigated. It turns out that only the case of a hydrodynamic description with the adiabatic constant κ = 3 is physically self-consistent. Numerical simulations confirm this argumentation. The analysis for the case κ = 3 is extended to the kinetics of a relativistic electron gas.
Abstract: The propagation of a relativistic electron with initial energy ≥ 100 MeV in a number of simple one-dimensional laser field configurations with circular polarization is studied by solving the relativistic equation of motion in the Landau–Lifschitz approach to account for the radiation friction force. The radiation back-reaction on the electron dynamics becomes visible at dimensionless field amplitudes a ≥ 10 at these high particle energies. Analytical expressions are derived for the energy and the longitudinal momentum of the electron, the frequency shift of the light scattered by the electron and the particle trajectories. These findings are compared with the numerical solutions of the basic equations. A strong radiation damping effect results in reduced light scattering, forming at the same time a broad quasi-continuous spectrum. In addition, the electron dynamics in the strong field of a quasistationary laser piston is investigated. Analytical solutions for the electron trajectories in this complex field pattern are obtained and compared with the numerical solutions. The radiation friction force may stop a relativistic electron after propagation over several laser wavelengths at high laser field strengths, which supports the formation of a stable piston.
Abstract: We address the problem of energy dispersion of radiation pressure accelerated (RPA) ion beams emerging from a thin target. Two different acceleration regimes, namely phase-stable acceleration and multistage acceleration, are considered by means of analytical modeling and one-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations. Our investigations offer a deeper understanding of RPA and allow us to derive some guidelines for generating monoenergetic ion beams.