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Towards ultra-intense ultra-short ion beams driven by a multi-PW laser

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2019

J. Badziak
Institute of Plasma Physics and Laser Microfusion, Warsaw, Poland
J. Domański*
Institute of Plasma Physics and Laser Microfusion, Warsaw, Poland
Author for correspondence: J. Domański, Institute of Plasma Physics and Laser Microfusion, Warsaw, Poland. E-mail:


The multi-petawatt (PW) lasers currently being built in Europe as part of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project will be capable of generating femtosecond light pulses of ultra-relativistic intensities (~1023–1024 W/cm2) that have been unattainable so far. Such laser pulses can be used for the production of high-energy ion beams with unique features that could be applied in various fields of scientific and technological research. In this paper, the prospect of producing ultra-intense (intensity ≥1020 W/cm2) ultra-short (pico- or femtosecond) high-energy ion beams using multi-PW lasers is outlined. The results of numerical studies on the acceleration of light (carbon) ions, medium-heavy (copper) ions and super-heavy (lead) ions driven by a femtosecond laser pulse of ultra-relativistic intensity, performed with the use of a multi-dimensional (2D3 V) particle-in-cell code, are presented, and the ion acceleration mechanisms and properties of the generated ion beams are discussed. It is shown that both in the case of light ions and in the case of medium-heavy and super-heavy ions, ultra-intense femtosecond multi-GeV ion beams with a beam intensity much higher (by a factor ~102) and ion pulse durations much shorter (by a factor ~104–105) than achievable presently in conventional radio frequency-driven accelerators can be produced at laser intensities of 1023 W/cm2 predicted for the ELI lasers. Such ion beams can open the door to new areas of research in high-energy density physics, nuclear physics and inertial confinement fusion.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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