Efficient post-acceleration of protons in helical coil targets driven by sub-ps laser pulses

H. Ahmed, S. Kar, G. Cantono, P. Hadjisolomou, Alexandre Poye, D. Gwynne, C. L. S. Lewis, A. Macchi, K. Naughton, G. Nersisyan, V. Tikhonchuk, Oswald Willi, M. Borghesi

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The characteristics of laser driven proton beams can be efficiently controlled and optimised by employing a recently developed helical coil technique, which exploits the transient self-charging of solid targets irradiated by intense laser pulses. Here we demonstrate a well collimated (<1° divergence) and narrow bandwidth (~10% energy spread) proton beamlet of ~107 particles at 10 ± 0.5 MeV obtained by irradiating helical coil targets with a few joules, sub-ps laser pulses at an intensity of ~2 × 1019 W cm−2. The experimental data are in good agreement with particle tracing simulations suggesting post-acceleration of protons inside the coil at a rate ~0.7 MeV/mm, which is comparable to the results obtained from a similar coil target irradiated by a fs class laser at an order of magnitude higher intensity, as reported in S. Kar et al., Nat. Commun, 7, 10792 (2016). The dynamics of hot electron escape from the laser irradiated target was studied numerically for these two irradiation regimes, which shows that the target self-charging can be optimised at a pulse duration of few hundreds of fs. This information is highly beneficial for maximising the post-acceleration gradient in future experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10891
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 07 Sep 2017

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