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Plasma cavitation in ultraintense laser interactions with underdense helium plasmas

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  • P. M. Nilson
  • S. P. D. Mangles
  • L. Willingale
  • M. C. Kaluza
  • A. G. R. Thomas
  • M. Tatarakis
  • R. J. Clarke
  • K. L. Lancaster
  • S. Karsch
  • J. Schreiber
  • Z. Najmudin
  • A. E. Dangor
  • K. Krushelnick
Article number045014
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/04/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>New Journal of Physics
Number of pages10
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Plasma cavitation in an underdense helium plasma driven by an ultraintense laser pulse (I > 10(20) W cm(-2)) is studied. Shadowgraphy and interferometry diagnose plasma channel formation as the laser pulse propagates through the underdense plasma. Measurements of the spatially resolved Thomson side-scattered light generated by the intense-driver pulse indicate the transverse and longitudinal extremities of the cavitated regions that form. Multiple laser-driven channels are observed and each is shown to be a source of electrons with energies greater than 100 MeV. Electron cavitation within an ion channel is consistent with the direct laser acceleration (DLA) mechanism that is present.