2.1 Laser Plasma Dynamics and Particle Acceleration
Project coordinator(s): M. Schnürer
Topics: Overview
Ion acceleration and proton imaging
Electron acceleration


Ion acceleration and MeV-proton beam imaging of relativistic plasmas

Herein a proton beam, generated by one laser, probes time resolved field structures and dynamics in a plasma generated by a second laser. Hence, laser acceleration of protons acts both as a tool and a subject of investigation itself.
MBI is part of the national DFG TRANSREGIO TR18 TR18 collaboration, comprising the major laboratories in the field of relativistic plasma dynamics. There, laser driven ion acceleration is being studied over a wide range of laser parameters, with applications in plasma physics, astrophysics, and nuclear physics.
Within the first period of TR18 (ended in June 2008) the two MBI high field lasers (a 1ps, ~10 J CPA glass laser and the 40 fs, ~1 J Ti:Sa laser) were synchronized with 1ps accuracy of the two 10 Hz front-end systems. This setup provided the experimental base for novel imaging experiments which had been realized in collaboration experiments. The temporal evolution of different acceleration fields has been analyzed from data obtained with a developed streak deflectometry setup ("proton streak camera"). New target systems as e.g. mass-limited and ultra-thin foil targets come now into the focus of ion acceleration research because higher energy transfer efficiency and as already demonstrated at MBI the production of quasi “mono-energetic” ion beams is important for the further advancement of the field. Proton imaging experiments with laser irradiated isolated targets (water droplets) experiments showed asymmetries in the field geometry which were analyzed with collaboration partners.

Experimental possibilities have been significantly enhanced with the upgrade of the high field laser system to a two arm (100 TW, and >40 TW) Ti:Sa laser system and a newly built radiation shielded lab area in 2010. Beamline construction and first experiments in 2011 are devoted to imaging experiments and new acceleration schemes. The whole installations are essential for continuation of the TR18 research projects.

Electron acceleration

The new topic on electron acceleration will start in 2012. Especially the newly built lab area with radiation shielding enables now this research. In regard to the analysis of presently available knowledge and results we will concentrate on staged electron acceleration schemes. The realization of subsequent acceleration stages with our two beam laser facility will deal with a research topic which is emphasized by leading groups in this area. There is a clear aim – the realization of electron bunches with GeV kinetic energies and femtosecond duration. If such pulses can be produced stable a new generation of laser based electron accelerators can serve for the emission of brilliant x-rays which are applied in many fields.

Remark concerning project history

Until 2010 the research on plasma based x-ray lasers was also a topic in our laser plasma project. Main activities on x-ray laser schemes have been completed and research is now oriented to application with a new x-ray laser user facility which is implemented in project 3.3 .