Ultrahigh-charge electron beams from laser-irradiated solid surface

Ma, Yong and Zhao, Jiarui and Li, Yifei and Li, Dazhang and Chen, Liming and Liu, Jianxun and Dann, Stephen J. D. and Ma, Yanyun and Yang, Xiaohu and Ge, Zheyi and Sheng, Zhengming and Zhang, Jie (2018) Ultrahigh-charge electron beams from laser-irradiated solid surface. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115 (27). pp. 6980-6985. ISSN 0027-8424 (https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1800668115)

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Compact acceleration of a tightly collimated relativistic electron beam with high charge from a laser–plasma interaction has many unique applications. However, currently the well-known schemes, including laser wakefield acceleration from gases and vacuum laser acceleration from solids, often produce electron beams either with low charge or with large divergence angles. In this work, we report the generation of highly collimated electron beams with a divergence angle of a few degrees, nonthermal spectra peaked at the megaelectronvolt level, and extremely high charge (∼100 nC) via a powerful subpicosecond laser pulse interacting with a solid target in grazing incidence. Particle-in-cell simulations illustrate a direct laser acceleration scenario, in which the self-filamentation is triggered in a large-scale near–critical-density plasma and electron bunches are accelerated periodically and collimated by the ultraintense electromagnetic field. The energy density of such electron beams in high-Z materials reaches to ∼1012 J/m3, making it a promising tool to drive warm or even hot dense matter states.