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Title: Laser-to-hot-electron conversion limitations in relativistic laser matter interactions due to multi-picosecond dynamics

High-energy short-pulse lasers are pushing the limits of plasma-based particle acceleration, x-ray generation, and high-harmonic generation by creating strong electromagnetic fields at the laser focus where electrons are being accelerated to relativistic velocities. Understanding the relativistic electron dynamics is key for an accurate interpretation of measurements. We present a unified and self-consistent modeling approach in quantitative agreement with measurements and differing trends across multiple target types acquired from two separate laser systems, which differ only in their nanosecond to picosecond-scale rising edge. Insights from high-fidelity modeling of laser-plasma interaction demonstrate that the ps-scale, orders of magnitude weaker rising edge of the main pulse measurably alters target evolution and relativistic electron generation compared to idealized pulse shapes. This can lead for instance to the experimentally observed difference between 45 MeV and 75 MeV maximum energy protons for two nominally identical laser shots, due to ps-scale prepulse variations. Our results indicate that the realistic inclusion of temporal laser pulse profiles in modeling efforts is required if predictive capability and extrapolation are sought for future target and laser designs or for other relativistic laser ion acceleration schemes.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [5] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [3]
  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
  2. The Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX (United States)
  3. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  4. Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Dresden (Germany)
  5. Voss Scientific, Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1070-664X; PHPAEN; 583606
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physics of Plasmas
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 22; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 1070-664X
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Research Org:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States
75 CONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS, SUPERCONDUCTIVITY AND SUPERFLUIDITY; protons; particle-in-cell method; high pressure; irradiance; acceleration measurement