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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2012 Mar;85(3 Pt 2):036405. Epub 2012 Mar 22.

Laser ion acceleration using a solid target coupled with a low-density layer.

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Dipartimento di Energia, Politecnico di Milano, Via Ponzio 34/3, I-20133 Milan, Italy.


We investigate by particle-in-cell simulations in two and three dimensions the laser-plasma interaction and the proton acceleration in multilayer targets where a low-density ("near-critical") layer of a few-micron thickness is added on the illuminated side of a thin, high-density layer. This target design can be obtained by depositing a "foam" layer on a thin metallic foil. The presence of the near-critical plasma strongly increases both the conversion efficiency and the energy of electrons and leads to enhanced acceleration of protons from a rear side layer via the target normal sheath acceleration mechanism. The electrons of the foam are strongly accelerated in the forward direction and propagate on the rear side of the target, building up a high electric field with a relatively flat longitudinal profile. In these conditions the maximum proton energy is up to three times higher than in the case of the bare solid target.


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