Premature relativistic transparency of ultrathin, laser-irradiated targets is recognized as an obstacle to achieving a stable Radiation Pressure Acceleration in the `Light Sail’ (LS) mode. Experimental data, corroborated by 2D PIC simulations, show that a few-nm thick overcoat surface layer of high Z material significantly improves ion bunching at high energies during the acceleration. This is diagnosed by simultaneous ion and neutron spectroscopy following irradiation of deuterated plastic targets. In particular, copious and directional neutron production (significantly larger than for other in-target schemes) arises, under optimal parameters, as a signature of plasma layer integrity during the acceleration.
|Journal||Physical Review Letters|
|Publication status||Published - 09 Sep 2022|