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The effect of phase front deformation on the growth of the filamentation instability in laser–plasma interactions

Higson, E. and Trines, R. and Jiang, J. and Bingham, R. and Lancaster, K. L. and Davies, J. R. and Norreys, P. A. (2013) The effect of phase front deformation on the growth of the filamentation instability in laser–plasma interactions. New Journal of Physics, 15. ISSN 1367-2630

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Abstract

Laser pulses of 0.9 kJ/1 ns/1053 nm were focused onto low-Z plastic targets in both spherical and planar geometry. The uniformity of the resulting plasma production was studied using x-ray pinhole imaging. Evidence is provided suggesting that thermal filamentation starts to occur for irradiances on the target of I lambda(2) >= 10(14) W cm(-2) mu m(2), even on deployment of phase plates to improve the focal spot spatial uniformity. The experiments are supported by both analytical modelling and two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations. The implications for the applications of laser-plasma interactions that require high degrees of uniform irradiation are discussed.