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The use of laser-accelerated protons as a particle probe for the detection of electric fields in plasmas has led in recent years to a wealth of novel information regarding the ultrafast plasma dynamics following high intensity laser-matter interactions. The high spatial quality and short duration of these beams have been essential to this purpose. We will discuss some of the most recent results obtained with this diagnostic at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (UK) and at LULI - Ecole Polytechnique (France), also applied to conditions of interest to conventional Inertial Confinement Fusion. In particular, the technique has been used to measure electric fields responsible for proton acceleration from solid targets irradiated with ps pulses, magnetic fields formed by ns pulse irradiation of solid targets, and electric fields associated with the ponderomotive channelling of ps laser pulses in under-dense plasmas.
The interaction of high-intensity laser pulses with matter releases
instantaneously ultra-large currents of highly energetic electrons,
leading to the generation of highly-transient, large-amplitude electric
and magnetic fields. We report results of recent experiments in which such
charge dynamics have been studied by using proton probing techniques able
to provide maps of the electrostatic fields with high spatial and temporal
resolution. The dynamics of ponderomotive channeling in underdense plasmas
have been studied in this way, as also the processes of Debye sheath
formation and MeV ion front expansion at the rear of laser-irradiated thin
metallic foils. Laser-driven impulsive fields at the surface of solid
targets can be applied for energy-selective ion beam focusing.
When a laser pulse impinges on a molecule which is invariant
under certain symmetry operations selection rules for harmonic
generation (HG) arise. In other words, symmetry controls
which channels are open for the deposition and emission
of laser energy—with the possible application of
filtering or amplification. We review the derivation of
HG selection rules and study numerically the interaction
of laser pulses with an effectively one-dimensional ring-shaped
model molecule. The harmonic yields obtained from that
model and their dependence on laser frequency and intensity
are discussed. In a real experiment obvious candidates
for such molecules are benzene, other aromatic compounds,
or even nanotubes.
We present a numerical study of the stabilization
process for a fully correlated two-electron model atom
in an intense laser pulse. A comparison with calculations
for a “real” 3D He atom is also done. We concentrate
on the very high frequency regime, where the photon energy
exceeds the ionization energy of both electrons, outer
and inner. Our results show that when correlation
effects are included the ionization probability (IP) is
enhanced. Nevertheless, we still observe a decreasing IP
within a certain intensity domain. The results from the
fully correlated simulations are compared with those from
simpler, approximate models. The full numerical treatment
for the He atom is not yet possible. We therefore present
results obtained with “single active electron”
approximation and time-dependent density functional theory.
Our numerical simulations can be useful for the future
understanding of the stabilization phenomenon for more-than-one
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