The dynamics of self-generated magnetic B-fields produced following the interaction of a high contrast, high intensity (I > 1019W cm-2) laser beam with thin (3 μm thick) solid (Al or Au) targets is investigated experimentally and numerically. Two main sources drive the growth of B-fields on the target surfaces. B-fields are first driven by laser-generated hot electron currents that relax over ∼10-20 ps. Over longer timescales, the hydrodynamic expansion of the bulk of the target into vacuum also generates B-field induced by non-collinear gradients of density and temperature. The laser irradiation of the target front side strongly localizes the energy deposition at the target front, in contrast to the target rear side, which is heated by fast electrons over a much larger area. This induces an asymmetry in the hydrodynamic expansion between the front and rear target surfaces, and consequently the associated B-fields are found strongly asymmetric. The sole long-lasting (>30 ps) B-fields are the ones growing on the target front surface, where they remain of extremely high strength (∼8-10 MG). These B-fields have been recently put by us in practical use for focusing laser-accelerated protons [B. Albertazzi et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. 86, 043502 (2015)]; here we analyze in detail their dynamics and structure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics