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Radiation pressure-driven plasma surface dynamics in ultra-intense laser pulse interactions with ultra-thin foils

Gonzalez-Izquierdo, Bruno and Capdessus, Remi and King, Martin and Gray, Ross J. and Wilson, Robbie and Dance, Rachel J. and McCreadie, John and Butler, Nicholas M. H. and Hawkes, Steve J. and Green, James and Booth, Nicola and Borghesi, Marco and Neely, David and McKenna, Paul (2018) Radiation pressure-driven plasma surface dynamics in ultra-intense laser pulse interactions with ultra-thin foils. Applied Sciences. pp. 1-18. ISSN 2076-3417

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    The dynamics of the plasma critical density surface in an ultra-thin foil target irradiated by an ultra-intense ( ∼ 6 × 1020 Wcm−2 ) laser pulse is investigated experimentally and via 2D particle-in- cell simulations. Changes to the surface motion are diagnosed as a function of foil thickness. The experimental and numerical results are compared with hole-boring and light-sail models of radi- ation pressure acceleration, to identify the foil thickness range for which each model accounts for the measured surface motion. Both the experimental and numerical results show that the onset of relativistic self-induced transparency, in the thinnest targets investigated, limits the velocity of the critical surface, and thus the e ff ectiveness of radiation pressure acceleration.