Selective Ion Acceleration by Intense Radiation Pressure

A. McIlvenny*, D. Doria, L. Romagnani, H. Ahmed, Nicola Booth, Emma-Jane Ditter, George S. Hicks, Oliver C. Ettlinger, P. Martin, Graeme G. Scott, Samuel D. R. Williamson, Andrea Macchi, Paul McKenna, Zulfikar Najmudin , David Neely, S. Kar, M. Borghesi*

*Corresponding author for this work

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We report on the selective acceleration of carbon ions during the interaction of ultrashort, circularly polarized and contrast-enhanced laser pulses, at a peak intensity of 5.5×1020 W/cm2, with ultrathin carbon foils. Under optimized conditions, energies per nucleon of the bulk carbon ions reached significantly higher values than the energies of contaminant protons (33 MeV/nucleon vs 18 MeV), unlike what is typically observed in laser-foil acceleration experiments. Experimental data, and supporting simulations, emphasize different dominant acceleration mechanisms for the two ion species and highlight an (intensity dependent) optimum thickness for radiation pressure acceleration; it is suggested that the preceding laser energy reaching the target before the main pulse arrives plays a key role in a preferential acceleration of the heavier ion species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number194801
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number19
Early online date01 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 05 Nov 2021


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