Extreme ultraviolet (XUV) and X-ray harmonic spectra produced by intense laser-solid interactions have, so far, been consistent with Doppler upshifted reflection from collective relativistic plasma oscillations-the relativistically oscillating mirror mechanism(1-6). Recent theoretical work, however, has identified a new interaction regime in which dense electron nanobunches are formed at the plasma-vacuum boundary resulting in coherent XUV radiation by coherent synchrotron emission(7,8) (CSE). Our experiments enable the isolation of CSE from competing processes, demonstrating that electron nanobunch formation does indeed occur. We observe spectra with the characteristic spectral signature of CSE-a slow decay of intensity, I, with high-harmonic order, n, as I(n) proportional to n(-1.62) before a rapid efficiency rollover. Particle-in-cell code simulations reveal how dense nanobunches of electrons are periodically formed and accelerated during normal-incidence interactions with ultrathin foils and result in CSE in the transmitted direction. This observation of CSE presents a route to high-energy XUV pulses(7,8) and offers a new window on understanding ultrafast energy coupling during intense laser-solid density interactions.
Bibliographical noteB.D. acknowledges support from the EPSRC through grants and a Career Acceleration Fellowship.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)