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Interaction of a linearly polarized Gaussian laser pulse (at relativistic intensity of 2.0 × 1020 Wcm−2) with a multi-layer foam (as a near critical density target) attached to a solid layer is investigated by using two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulation. It is found that electrons with longitudinal momentum exceeding the free electrons limit of meca02/2 so-called super-hot electrons can be produced when the direct laser acceleration regime is fulfilled and benefited from self-focusing inside of the subcritical plasma. These electrons penetrate easily through the target and can enhance greatly the sheath field at the rear, resulting in a significant increase in the maximum energy of protons in target normal sheath acceleration regime. The results indicate that the maximum proton energy is enhanced by 2.7 times via using an assembled target arrangement compared to a bare solid target. Furthermore, by demonstration of this assembly, the maximum proton energy is improved beyond the optimum amount achieved by a two-layer target proposed by Sgattoni et al. (2012).
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