Ellipsoidal plasma mirror focusing of high power laser pulses to ultra-high intensities

Wilson, R. and King, M. and Gray, R. J. and Carroll, D. C. and Dance, R. J. and Armstrong, C. and Hawkes, S. J. and Clarke, R. J. and Robertson, D. J. and Neely, D. and Mckenna, P. (2016) Ellipsoidal plasma mirror focusing of high power laser pulses to ultra-high intensities. Physics of Plasmas, 23 (3). 033106. ISSN 1070-664X

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    Abstract

    The design and development of an ellipsoidal F/1 focusing plasma mirror capable of increasing the peak intensity achievable on petawatt level laser systems to > 10 22 Wcm-2 is presented. A factor of 2.5 reduction in the focal spot size is achieved when compared to F/3 focusing with a conventional (solid state) optic. We find a factor 3.6 enhancement in peak intensity, taking into account changes in plasma mirror reflectivity and focal spot quality. The sensitivity of the focusing plasma optic to misalignment is also investigated. It is demonstrated that an increase in peak laser intensity from 3 x 10 20 Wcm-2 to 10 21 Wcm-3 results in a factor of two increase in the maximum energy of sheath-accelerated protons from a thin foil positioned at the focus of the intense laser light.