Control of laser light by a plasma immersed in a tunable strong magnetic field

Zheng, Xiaolong and Weng, Suming and Ma, Hanghang and Wang, Yuanxiang and Chen, Min and McKenna, Paul and Sheng, Zhengming (2019) Control of laser light by a plasma immersed in a tunable strong magnetic field. Optics Express, 27 (16). pp. 23529-23538. ISSN 1094-4087

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    Abstract

    The interaction between laser light and an underdense plasma immersed in a spatio-temporally tunable magnetic field is studied analytically and numerically. The transversely nonuniform magnetic field can serve as a magnetic channel, which can act on laser propagation in a similar way to the density channel. The envelope equation for laser intensity evolution is derived, which contains the effects of magnetic channel and relativistic self-focusing. Due to the magnetic field applied, the critical laser power for relativistic self-focusing can be significantly reduced. Theory and particle-in-cell simulations show that a weakly relativistic laser pulse can propagate with a nearly constant peak intensity along the magnetic channel for a distance much longer than its Rayleigh length. By setting the magnetic field tunable in both space and time, the simulation further shows that the magnetized plasma can then act as a lens of varying focal length to control the movement of laser focal spot, decoupling the laser group velocity from the light speed c in vacuum.