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The efficient transfer of angular orbital momentum from circularly polarized laser pulses into ions of solid density targets is investigated with different geometries using particle-in-cell simulations. The detailed electron and ion dynamics presented focus upon the energy and momentum conversion efficiency. It is found that the momentum transfer is more efficient for spiral targets and the maximum value is obtained when the spiral step is equal to twice the laser wavelength. This study reveals that the angular momentum distribution of ions strongly depends up on the initial target shape and density.
The measured spatial-intensity distribution of the beam of protons accelerated from the rear side of a solid target irradiated by an intense (>1019 Wcm−2) laser pulse provides a diagnostic of the two-dimensional fast electron density profile at the target rear surface and thus the fast electron beam transport pattern within the target. An analytical model is developed, accounting for rear-surface fast electron sheath dynamics, ionization and projection of the resulting beam of protons. The sensitivity of the spatial-intensity distribution of the proton beam to the fast electron density distribution is investigated. An annular fast electron beam transport pattern with filamentary structure is inferred for the case of a thick diamond target irradiated at a peak laser intensity of 6 × 1019 Wcm−2.