A number of experiments have been undertaken at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory that were designed to investigate the physics of fast electron transport relevant to fast ignition inertial fusion. The laser, operating at a wavelength of 1054 nm, provided pulses of up to 350 J of energy on target in a duration that varied in the range 0.5-5 ps and a focused intensity of up to 10(21) W cm(-2). A dependence of the divergence of the fast electron beam with intensity on target has been identified for the first time. This dependence is reproduced in two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations and has been found to be an intrinsic property of the laser-plasma interaction. A number of ideas to control the divergence of the fast electron beam are described. The fractional energy transfer to the fast electron beam has been obtained from calibrated, time-resolved, target rear-surface radiation temperature measurements. It is in the range 15-30%, increasing with incident laser energy on target. The fast electron temperature has been measured to be lower than the ponderomotive potential energy and is well described by Haines' relativistic absorption model.
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics