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Thanks to a rapid progress of high-power lasers since the birth of laser by T. H. Maiman in 1960, intense lasers have been developed mainly for studying the scientific feasibility of laser fusion. Inertial confinement fusion with an intense laser has attracted attention as a new future energy source after two oil crises in the 1970s and 1980s. From the beginning, the most challenging physics is known to be the hydrodynamic instability to realize the spherical implosion to achieve more than 1000 times the solid density. Many studies have been performed theoretically and experimentally on the hydrodynamic instability and resultant turbulent mixing of compressible fluids. During such activities in the laboratory, the explosion of supernova SN1987A was observed in the sky on 23 February 1987. The X-ray satellites have revealed that the hydrodynamic instability is a key issue to understand the physics of supernova explosion. After collaboration between laser plasma researchers and astrophysicists, the laboratory astrophysics with intense lasers was proposed and promoted around the end of the 1990s. The original subject was mainly related to hydrodynamic instabilities. However, after two decades of laboratory astrophysics research, we can now find a diversity of research topics. It has been demonstrated theoretically and experimentally that a variety of nonlinear physics of collisionless plasmas can be studied in laser ablation plasmas in the last decade. In the present paper, we shed light on the recent 10 topics studied intensively in laboratory experiments. A brief review is given by citing recent papers. Then, modeling cosmic-ray acceleration with lasers is reviewed in a following session as a special topic to be the future main topic in laboratory astrophysics research.
We report on the design and first results from experiments looking at the formation of radiative shocks on the Shenguang-II (SG-II) laser at the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics in China. Laser-heating of a two-layer CH/CH–Br foil drives a $\sim 40$ km/s shock inside a gas cell filled with argon at an initial pressure of 1 bar. The use of gas-cell targets with large (several millimetres) lateral and axial extent allows the shock to propagate freely without any wall interactions, and permits a large field of view to image single and colliding counter-propagating shocks with time-resolved, point-projection X-ray backlighting ($\sim 20$ μm source size, 4.3 keV photon energy). Single shocks were imaged up to 100 ns after the onset of the laser drive, allowing to probe the growth of spatial nonuniformities in the shock apex. These results are compared with experiments looking at counter-propagating shocks, showing a symmetric drive that leads to a collision and stagnation from $\sim 40$ ns onward. We present a preliminary comparison with numerical simulations with the radiation hydrodynamics code ARWEN, which provides expected plasma parameters for the design of future experiments in this facility.
The first demonstration of laser action in ruby was made in 1960 by T. H. Maiman of Hughes Research Laboratories, USA. Many laboratories worldwide began the search for lasers using different materials, operating at different wavelengths. In the UK, academia, industry and the central laboratories took up the challenge from the earliest days to develop these systems for a broad range of applications. This historical review looks at the contribution the UK has made to the advancement of the technology, the development of systems and components and their exploitation over the last 60 years.
Magnetic reconnection driven by laser plasma interactions attracts great interests in the recent decades. Motivated by the rapid development of the laser technology, the ultra strong magnetic field generated by the laser-plasma accelerated electrons provides unique environment to investigate the relativistic magnetic field annihilation and reconnection. It opens a new way for understanding relativistic regimes of fast magnetic field dissipation particularly in space plasmas, where the large scale magnetic field energy is converted to the energy of the nonthermal charged particles. Here we review the recent results in relativistic magnetic reconnection based on the laser and collisionless plasma interactions. The basic mechanism and the theoretical model are discussed. Several proposed experimental setups for relativistic reconnection research are presented.
The acceleration of polarized electrons, positrons, protons and ions in strong laser and plasma fields is a very attractive option for obtaining polarized beams in the multi-mega-electron volt range. Recently, there has been substantial progress in the understanding of the dominant mechanisms leading to high degrees of polarization, in the numerical modeling of these processes and in their experimental implementation. This review paper presents an overview on the current state of the field, and on the concepts of polarized laser–plasma accelerators and of beam polarimetry.