The Physics of Laser-Plasma Interaction in Gaseous Targets
In studying the fundamental physics of laser-plasma interaction, gaseous targets offer some definite advantages over solid targets. Because they are experimentally cleaner and more controllable, gaseous targets have enabled us to isolate some specific physical processes. For example, we have found fast electron emission in a direction 30° away from the electric vector of the light wave, but in the plane of optical polarization. This effect is the clear signature of the resonant acceleration mechanism for laser beam absorption. The angle of electron emission determines the plasma density scale length. In addition, we have used the sudden plasma nucleation in a gas target as an optical shutter. This has resulted in the generation of 30 psec CO2 laser pulses—a record. There will also be some discussion of the possibility of compressing a gaseous target to produce net fusion energy.
KeywordsPlasma Density Gaseous Target Solid Target Critical Layer Electric Vector
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