Efficient ion acceleration and dense electron-positron plasma creation in ultra-high intensity laser-solid interactions

Del Sorbo, D and Blackman, D R and Capdessus, R and Small, K and Slade-Lowther, C and Lou, W and Duff, M J and Robinson, A P L and McKenna, P and Sheng, Z-M and Pasley, J and Ridgers, C P (2018) Efficient ion acceleration and dense electron-positron plasma creation in ultra-high intensity laser-solid interactions. New Journal of Physics, 20. ISSN 1367-2630

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    Abstract

    The radiation pressure of next generation ultra-high intensity ( > 1023 W/cm2 ) lasers could efficiently accelerate ions to GeV energies. However, nonlinear quantum-electrodynamic effects play an important role in the interaction of these laser pulses with matter. Here we show that these effects may lead to the production of an ex- tremely dense (∼1024 cm−3) pair-plasma which absorbs the laser pulse consequently reducing the accelerated ion energy and laser to ion conversion efficiency by up to 30-50% & 50-65%, respectively. Thus we identify the regimes of laser-matter interaction, where either ions are efficiently accelerated to high energy or dense pair-plasmas are produced as a guide for future experiments.