Proton and heavy ion acceleration driven by high intensity – short pulse Lasers

The production and the acceleration of ions by means of high-intensity laser irradiating thin foils is an appealing field of research which has seen a growing attention during the past decade. The emitted ions and, in particular, protons pulses contain large particle numbers between 1010 and 1013 with energies in the MeV [1,2] and multi-MeV range [3–6] and are tightly confined in time (~ps) and space (source radius of a few micron). These outstanding characteristics triggered speculations about a wide range of applications in nuclear and medical physics.

More specifically, laser-matter interaction experiments involve high energy ions generated in the interaction of laser pulses with solid targets [7,8], gas jets [9,10], and clusters [11,12]. Part of the current research in this area is directed towards the development of a compact neutron source, while several other nuclear applications have recently been proposed: isotope production and start-up of fission reactions.

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