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Finite Spot Effects on Radiation Pressure Acceleration from Intense High-Contrast Laser Interactions with Thin Targets

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  • F. Dollar
  • C. Zulick
  • A. G. R. Thomas
  • V. Chvykov
  • J. Davis
  • G. Kalinchenko
  • T. Matsuoka
  • C. McGuffey
  • G. M. Petrov
  • L. Willingale
  • V. Yanovsky
  • A. Maksimchuk
  • K. Krushelnick
Article number175005
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>25/04/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Physical review letters
Issue number17
Number of pages5
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Short pulse laser interactions at intensities of 2 x 10(21) W cm(-2) with ultrahigh contrast (10(-15)) on submicrometer silicon nitride foils were studied experimentally by using linear and circular polarizations at normal incidence. It was observed that, as the target decreases in thickness, electron heating by the laser begins to occur for circular polarization leading to target normal sheath acceleration of contaminant ions, while at thicker targets no acceleration or electron heating is observed. For linear polarization, all targets showed exponential energy spreads with similar electron temperatures. Particle-in-cell simulations demonstrate that the heating is due to the rapid deformation of the target that occurs early in the interaction. These experiments demonstrate that finite spot size effects can severely restrict the regime suitable for radiation pressure acceleration.