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Experimental data are presented showing maximum carbon C6+ ion energies obtained from nm-scaled targets in the relativistic transparent regime for laser intensities between 9 × 1019 and 2 × 1021 W/cm2. When combined with two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations, these results show a steep linear scaling for carbon ions with the normalized laser amplitude a0 (
$a_0 \propto \sqrt ( I)$
). The results are in good agreement with a semi-analytic model that allows one to calculate the optimum thickness and the maximum ion energies as functions of a0 and the laser pulse duration τλ for ion acceleration in the relativistic-induced transparency regime. Following our results, ion energies exceeding 100 MeV/amu may be accessible with currently available laser systems.
Los Alamos National Laboratory short pulse experiments have shown
using various target cleaning techniques such that heavy ion beams of
different charge states can be produced. Furthermore, by controlling the
thickness of light ions on the rear of the target, monoenergetic ion
pulses can be generated. The spectral shape of the accelerated particles
can be controlled to yield a range of distributions, from Maxwellian to
ones possessing a monoenergetic peak at high energy. The key lies in
understanding and utilizing target surface chemistry. Careful monitoring
and control of the surface properties and induction of reactions at
different temperatures allows well defined source layers to be formed,
which in turn lead to the desired energy spectra in the acceleration
process. Theoretical considerations provide understanding of the process
of monoenergetic ion production. In addition, numerical modeling has
identified a new acceleration mechanism, the laser break-out afterburner
that could potentially boost particle energies by up to two orders of
magnitude for the same laser parameters. This mechanism may enable
application of laser-accelerated ion beams to venues such as compact
accelerators, tumor therapy, and ion fast ignition.
Inertial confinement fusion (ICF) requires high compression of fusion fuel to densities approaching 1000 times liquid density of deuterium-tritium (D–T) at central temperatures in excess of 5 keV. The goal of ICF is to achieve high gain (of the order of 100 or greater) in the laboratory. To meet this objective with minimum driver energy, a number of central issues must be addressed. Research in ICF with laser drivers has shown the importance of using short wavelength (λ < 0.5 µm). To achieve conditions for high gain at driver energies of a few megajoules or less, high intensities (>1014W/cm2) are required. The directdrive approach to ICF is more energy efficient than indirect drive if the stringent drive symmetry and hydrodynamic stability requirements can be met by a suitable laser irradiation scheme and target design. Experiments carried out at 351 nm on the 2-kJ, 24-beam OMEGA laser system at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester, and future experiments to be performed on a 30-kJ upgrade of this laser, can resolve the remaining physics issues for direct drive: (1) energy coupling and transport scaling; (2) irradiation-uniformity requirements for high gain; (3) hydrodynamic stability constraints; and (4) hot-spot and main-fuel-layer physics. We review progress made on achieving uniform drive conditions with the OMEGA system and present results for direct-drive cryogenic-fuel-capsule and CD-shell, “surrogate” cryogenic-capsule implosion experiments that illustrate the constraints imposed by hydrodynamic instabilities and drive uniformity on the design of high-performance direct-drive targets. Target designs have been identified that will explore the ignition-scaling regime using the OMEGA Upgrade. Experiments on the OMEGA Upgrade will signal whether or not there is a high probability of achieving modest to high gain using direct drive on an upgrade of the NOVA facility.
Validation of the direct-drive approach to inertial confinement fusion requires the development of a 351-nm wavelength, 30-kJ, 50-TW laser system with flexible pulse shaping and irradiation uniformity approaching 1%. An upgrade of the existing OMEGA direct-drive facility at Rochester is planned to meet these objectives. In this article, we review the design rationale and specifications of the OMEGA Upgrade laser with particular emphasis on techniques planned to achieve the required degree of beam smoothing, temporal pulse shape, and beam-to-beam power balance.
A critical test of direct-drive laser-fusion has been conducted with the demonstration of DT compression to densities in the range of 100–200 times liquid density in experiments on the University of Rochester's OMEGA laser facility. The high-density cyrogenic experiments used 351-nm laser pulses with energies of 1500–1800 J and pulse widths in the range of 600–700 ps.
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