Dynamics of relativistic transparency and optical shuttering in expanding overdense plasmas

Sasi Palaniyappan, B. Manuel Hegelich, Hui-Chun Wu, Daniel Jung, Donald C. Gautier, Lin Yin, Brian J. Albright, Randall P. Johnson, Tsutomu Shimada, Samuel Letzring, Dustin T. Offermann, Jun Ren, Chengkun Huang, Rainer Hörlein, Brendan Dromey, Juan C. Fernandez, Rahul C. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Citations (Scopus)


Overdense plasmas are usually opaque to laser light. However, when the light is of sufficient intensity to drive electrons in the plasma to near light speeds, the plasma becomes transparent. This process—known as relativistic transparency—takes just a tenth of a picosecond. Yet all studies of relativistic transparency so far have been restricted to measurements collected over timescales much longer than this, limiting our understanding of the dynamics of this process. Here we present time-resolved electric field measurements (with a temporal resolution of ~ 50 fs) of the light, initially reflected from, and subsequently transmitted through, an expanding overdense plasma. Our result provides insight into the dynamics of the transparent-overdense regime of relativistic plasmas, which should be useful in the development of laser-driven particle accelerators, X-ray sources and techniques for controlling the shape and contrast of intense laser pulses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-769
Number of pages7
JournalNature Physics
Issue number10
Early online date19 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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