This new project relies on the capabilities collocated at Los Alamos in the Trident laser facility of long-pulse laser drive, for laser-plasma formation, and high-intensity short-pulse laser drive, for relativistic laser-matter interaction experiments. Specifically, we are working to understand quantitatively the physics that underlie the generation of laser-driven MeV/nucleon ion beams, in order to extend these capabilities over a range of ion species, to optimize beam generation, and to control those beams. Furthermore, we intend to study the interaction of these novel laser-driven ion beams with dense plasmas, which are relevant to important topics such as the fast-ignition method of inertial confinement fusion (ICF), weapons physics, and planetary physics. We are interested in irradiating metallic foils with the Trident short-pulse laser to generate medium to heavy ion beams (Z = 20–45) with high efficiency. At present, target-surface impurities seem to be the main obstacle to reliable and efficient acceleration of metallic ions in the foil substrate. In order to quantify the problem, measurements of surface impurities on typical metallic-foil laser targets were made. To eliminate these impurities, we resorted to novel target-treatment techniques such as Joule-heating and laser-ablation, using a long-pulse laser intensity of ∼ 1010 W/cm2. Our progress on this promising effort is presented in this paper, along with a summary of the overall project.
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