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This paper provides a summary of recent research connected with the shock ignition (SI) concept of the inertial confinement fusion which was carried out at PALS. In the experiments, Cu planar targets coated with a thin CH layer were used. Two-beam irradiation experiment was applied to investigate the effect of preliminary produced plasma to shock-wave generation. The 1ω or 3ω main beam with a high intensity >1015 W/cm2 generates shock wave, while the other 1ω beam with the intensity below 1014 W/cm2 creates CH pre-plasma simulating the pre-compressed plasma related to SI. Influence of laser wavelength on absorbed energy transfer to shock wave was studied by means of femtosecond interferometry and measuring the crater volume. To characterize the hot electron and ion emission, two-dimensional (2D) Kα-imaging of Cu plasma and grid collector measurements were used. In single 1ω beam experiments energy transport by fast electrons produced by resonant absorption made a significant contribution to shock-wave pressure. However, two-beam experiments with 1ω main beam show that the pre-plasma is strongly degrading the scalelength which leads to decreasing the fast electron energy contribution to shock pressure. In both the single 3ω beam experiments and the two-beam experiments with the 3ω main beam, do not show any clear influence of fast electron transport on shock-wave pressure. The non-monotonic behavior of the scalelength at changing the laser beam focal radius in both presence and absence of pre-plasma reflects the competition of plasma motion and electron heat conduction under the conditions of one-dimensional and 2D plasma expansion at large and small focal radii, respectively.
The experimental study of the plasma projectile acceleration in the laser-induced cavity pressure acceleration (LICPA) scheme is reported. In the experiment performed at the kilojoule PALS laser facility, the parameters of the projectile were measured using interferometry, a streak camera and ion diagnostics, and the measurements were supported by two-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations. It is shown that in the LICPA accelerator with a 200-J laser driver, a 4-μg gold plasma projectile is accelerated to the velocity of 140 km/s with the energetic acceleration efficiency of 15–19% which is significantly higher than those achieved with the commonly used ablative acceleration and the highest among the ones measured so far for any projectiles accelerated to the velocities ≥100 km/s. This achievement opens the possibility of creation and investigation of high-energy-density matter states with the use of moderate-energy lasers and may also have an impact on the development of the impact ignition approach to inertial confinement fusion.
Measurements are reported of the target neutralization current, the target charge, and the tangential component of the magnetic field generated as a result of laser–target interaction by pulses with the energy in the range of 45–92 mJ on target and the pulse duration from 39 to 1000 fs. The experiment was performed at the Eclipse facility in CELIA, Bordeaux. The aim of the experiment was to extend investigations performed for the thick (mm scale) targets to the case of thin (μm thickness) targets in a way that would allow for a straightforward comparison of the results. We found that thin foil targets tend to generate 20–50% higher neutralization current and the target charge than the thick targets. The measurement of the tangential component of the magnetic field had shown that the initial spike is dominated by the 1 ns pulse consistent with the 1 ns pulse of the neutralization current, but there are some differences between targets of different types on sub-ns scale, which is an effect going beyond a simple picture of the target acting as an antenna. The sub-ns structure appears to be reproducible to surprising degree. We found that there is in general a linear correlation between the maximum value of the magnetic field and the maximum neutralization current, which supports the target-antenna picture, except for pulses 100s of fs long.
The effect of laser intensity on characteristics of the plasma ablated from a low-Z (CH) planar target irradiated by a 250 ps, 0.438 µm laser pulse with the intensity of up to 1016 W/cm2 as well as on parameters of the laser-driven shock generated in the target for various scale-lengths of preformed plasma was investigated at the kilojoule Prague Asterix Laser System (PALS) laser facility. Characteristics of the plasma were measured with the use of 3-frame interferometry, ion diagnostics, an X-ray spectrometer, and Kα imaging. Parameters of the shock generated in a Cl doped CH target by the intense 3ω laser pulse were inferred by numerical hydrodynamic simulations from the measurements of craters produced by the shock in the massive Cu target behind the CH layer. It was found that the pressure of the shock generated in the plastic layer is relatively weakly influenced by the preplasma (the pressure drop due to the preplasma presence is ~10–20%) and at the pulse intensity of ~1016 W/cm2 the maximum pressure reaches ~80–90 Mbar. However, an increase in pressure of the shock with the laser intensity is slower than predicted by theory for a planar shock and the maximum pressure achieved in the experiment is by a factor of ~2 lower than predicted by the theory. Both at the preplasma absence and presence, the laser-to-hot electrons energy conversion efficiency is small, ~1% or below, and the influence of hot electrons on the generated shock is expected to be weak.
This paper reports on properties of a plasma formed by sequential action of two laser beams on a flat target, simulating the conditions of shock-ignited inertial confinement fusion target exposure. The experiments were performed using planar targets consisting of a massive copper (Cu) plate coated with a thin plastic (CH) layer, which was irradiated by the 1ω PALS laser beam (λ = 1.315 μm) at the energy of 250 J. The intensity of the fixed-energy laser beam was scaled by varying the focal spot radius. To imitate shock ignition conditions, the lower-intensity auxiliary 1ω beam created CH-pre-plasma which was irradiated by the main beam with a delay of 1.2 ns, thus generating a shock wave in the massive part of the target. To study the parameters of the plasma treated by the two-beam irradiation of the targets, a set of various diagnostics was applied, namely: (i) Two-channel polaro-interferometric system irradiated by the femtosecond laser (~40 fs), (ii) spectroscopic measurements in the X-ray range, (iii) two-dimensional (2D)-resolved imaging of the Kα line emission from Cu, (iv) measurements of the ion emission by means of ion collectors, and (v) measurements of the volume of craters produced in a massive target providing information on the efficiency of the laser energy transfer to the shock wave. The 2D numerical simulations have been used to support the interpretation of experimental data. The general conclusion is that the fraction of the main laser beam energy deposited into the massive copper at two-beam irradiation decreases in comparison with the case of pre-plasma. The reason is that the pre-formed and expanding plasma deteriorates the efficiency of the energy transfer from the main laser pulse to a solid part of the targets by means of the fast electrons and the wave of an electron thermal conductivity.
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