High Intensity Laser-Plasma Grating Interaction: surface wave excitation and particle acceleration

Abstract : Surface waves in solids were first observed by Wood in 1902 as an anomaly in the diffraction of a continuous light source from a metal grating: the diffracted spectrum presented dark lines corresponding to certain wavelengths, which were later explained (Fano, 1941) in terms of the excitation of a surface wave sustained by the grating. Similarly to the metal grating case, a surface plasma wave (SPW) can be resonantly excited by a laser pulse at the surface of a laser-produced over-dense plasma, if the correct matching conditions are provided. SPWs propagate along the plasma-vacuum interface and are characterized by a localized, high frequency, resonant electric field. In the present work we describe numerically the dynamics of the plasma and the field distribution associated to SPW excitation, using two-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations, where the plasma surface is initially pre-formed so that the SPW excitation conditions are fulfilled. We examine the surface wave excitation for a large range of laser intensities (Iλ2 =10^15-10^20 μm^2/Wcm^2) in order to study the transition from the non-relativistic to the relativistic regime. The simulations in which the wave is resonantly excited are compared to cases in which the resonant conditions are not provided and the coupling of the laser with the target is analyzed. We have considered the following aspects of the laser-plasma interaction, for different laser and target parameters: i) the laser absorption and the electric field at the surface ii) the generation of a quasi-static magnetic field iii) the electron heating and iiii) the ion acceleration. The possibility to excite a surface plasma wave on a structured target for a large range of laser energies has been demonstrated. In the cases where the surface wave is excited the electric field component normal to the target is amplified at the surface by a factor ranging from 3.2 to 7.2 with respect to the laser field. The absorption is also increased,for example it raises from 27% when the SPW is not excited up to 73% for Iλ^2=10^9 μm^2/Wcm^2. We have defined the optimal conditions for efficient coupling which increase laser absorption, that correspond to the relativistic laser intensities (Iλ^2>10^19 μm^2/Wcm^2). In this regime the main absorption mechanism is vacuum heating, associated to particles oscillating in the field perpendicular to the target, which is enhanced by the stronger, localized field of the SPW. The generation of a quasi-static magnetic field has been studied analytically and compared to the result of PIC simulations. The different field structure in presence of a SPW and for a flat target suggests that the enhanced field strength has caused partial confinement of particles at the target surface when SPW is present. The effects of the surface wave are more pronounced in thin laminar targets where electrons recirculate into the target interacting several times with the wave. Efficient electron heating increases the energy of the ions which are accelerated at both the irradiated and not irradiated target surface by the hot electrons space charge field. For the thinnest target (3.5 μm) the ion cut-off energy is about 14 Mev, approximately twice the value obtained when the SPW is not excited.
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https://pastel.archives-ouvertes.fr/pastel-00758355
Contributor : Bigongiari Alessandra <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 3:48:40 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - 4:26:01 PM
Long-term archiving on : Saturday, December 17, 2016 - 5:34:02 PM

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  • HAL Id : pastel-00758355, version 1

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Bigongiari Alessandra. High Intensity Laser-Plasma Grating Interaction: surface wave excitation and particle acceleration. Plasmas. Ecole Polytechnique X, 2012. English. ⟨pastel-00758355⟩

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