The potential of laser-driven ion beam applications is limited by high quality requirements. The excellent "point-source" characteristics of the laser accelerated proton beam in a broad energy range were found by using proton radiographs of a mesh. The "virtual source" of protons, the point where the proton trajectories are converging and form a waist, gradually decreases and moves asymptotically to the target with increasing particles' energy. Computer simulations confirmed that the beam profile at the center is fully conserved, the virtual source of higher energy protons gradually moves closer to the target, and if the particle energy is further increased, the virtual source will be located on the target front surface (for portions above 13 MeV, in this case) with a size comparable to the laser spot size. The laser ponderomotive force pushes the electrons deep into the target creating a bipolar charge structure, i.e., an electron cavity and spike which produces strong accelerating field, realizing a point-size source of accelerated protons. This behavior has not previously been predicted. These results contribute to the development of next generation laser-accelerators suitable for many applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics