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Phys Rev Lett. 2004 Oct 8;93(15):155003. Epub 2004 Oct 7.

Ion acceleration by collisionless shocks in high-intensity-laser-underdense-plasma interaction.

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Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, London SW7 2BZ, UK.


Ion acceleration by the interaction of an ultraintense short-pulse laser with an underdense-plasma has been studied at intensities up to 3 x 10(20) W/cm(2). Helium ions having a maximum energy of 13.2+/-1.0 MeV were measured at an angle of 100 degrees from the laser propagation direction. The maximum ion energy scaled with plasma density as n(0.70+/-0.05)(e). Two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations suggest that multiple collisionless shocks are formed at high density. The interaction of shocks is responsible for the observed plateau structure in the ion spectrum and leads to an enhanced ion acceleration beyond that possible by the ponderomotive potential of the laser alone.

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