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We report production of a self-injected, collimated (8 mrad divergence), 600 pC bunch of electrons with energies up to 350 MeV from a petawatt laser-driven plasma accelerator in a plasma of electron density ne = 1017 cm−3, an order of magnitude lower than previous self-injected laser-plasma accelerators. The energy of the focused drive laser pulse (150 J, 150 fs) was distributed over several hot spots. Simulations show that these hot spots remained independent over a 5 cm interaction length, and produced weakly nonlinear plasma wakes without bubble formation capable of accelerating pre-heated (~1 MeV) plasma electrons up to the observed energies. The required pre-heating is attributed tentatively to pre-pulse interactions with the plasma.
Femtosecond time-resolved reflectivity measurements performed on highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) and diamond elucidate the nature of the phase transition from solid to liquid carbon. In HOPG, we find that a high-reflectivity phase lasting as long as 10 ps appears when the surface is irradiated with pulse fluences in excess of 0.13 J/cm2, the critical fluence for melting. This transforms within 30 ps into an equilibrium low-reflectivity phase lasting hundreds of ps, similar to behavior observed in picosecond reflectivity experiments. The results suggest the occurrence of a two-step phase transition (graphite -> liquid metal -> liquid insulator) when HOPG is excited above the critical fluence. Similar results are obtained with diamond.
We have developed a femtosecond ellipsometer by incorporating ellipsometric probe optics into a rapid scan femtosecond pump-and-probe experiment. The system allows near real-time display of the photo-induced reflectivity changes and provides complete characterization of the time-varying dielectric function. This ellipsometer is used ex situ to characterize the femtosecond response of relaxed, MBE-grown SixGe1−x alloys over the complete composition range. The results show. that the femtosecond response depends strongly on alloy composition in optically thick samples. Ge-like samples (x<0.37) show a characteristic two-component response which may be caused by intervalley L →Γ hole scattering and impact ionization. For a given alloy composition, the presence of interfacial strain or surface oxidation strongly alter the femtosecond response.
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