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Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Nov 21;109(21):215001. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Laser-driven shock acceleration of monoenergetic ion beams.

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GoLP/Instituto de Plasmas e Fusão Nuclear-Laboratório Associado, Instituto Superior Técnico, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal.


We show that monoenergetic ion beams can be accelerated by moderate Mach number collisionless, electrostatic shocks propagating in a long scale-length exponentially decaying plasma profile. Strong plasma heating and density steepening produced by an intense laser pulse near the critical density can launch such shocks that propagate in the extended plasma at high velocities. The generation of a monoenergetic ion beam is possible due to the small and constant sheath electric field associated with the slowly decreasing density profile. The conditions for the acceleration of high-quality, energetic ion beams are identified through theory and multidimensional particle-in-cell simulations. The scaling of the ion energy with laser intensity shows that it is possible to generate ~200 MeV proton beams with state-of-the-art 100 TW class laser systems.

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