Recent results from experimental studies on laser–plasma coupling in a shock

Recent results from experimental studies on laser–plasma coupling in a shock
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P. Koester, L. Antonelli, S. Atzeni, J. Badziak, F. Baffigi, D. Batani, C. A. Cecchetti, T. Chodukowski, F. Consoli, G. Cristoforetti, R. De Angelis, G. Folpini, L. A. Gizzi, Z. Kalinowska, E. Krousky, M. Kucharik, L. Labate, T. Levato, R. Liska, G. Malka, Y. Maheut, A. Marocchino, P. Nicolai, T. O’Dell, P. Parys, T. Pisarczyk, P. Raczka, O. Renner, Y. J. Rhee, X. Ribeyre, M. Richetta, M. Rosinski, L. Ryc, J. Skala, A. Schiavi, G. Schurtz, M. Smid, C. Spindloe, J. Ullschmied, J. Wolowski and A. Zaras

Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion 55, 124045 (2013)

Abstract

Shock ignition (SI) is an appealing approach in the inertial confinement scenario for the ignition and burn of a pre-compressed fusion pellet. In this scheme, a strong converging shock is launched by laser irradiation at an intensity I lambda(2) >10(15) W cm(-2) mu m(2) at the end of the compression phase. In this intensity regime, laser-plasma interactions are characterized by the onset of a variety of instabilities, including stimulated Raman scattering, Brillouin scattering and the two plasmon decay, accompanied by the generation of a population of fast electrons. The effect of the fast electrons on the efficiency of the shock wave production is investigated in a series of dedicated experiments at the Prague Asterix Laser Facility (PALS).
We study the laser-plasma coupling in a SI relevant regime in a planar geometry by creating an extended preformed plasma with a laser beam at similar to 7 x 10(13) W cm(-2) (250 ps, 1315 nm). A strong shock is launched by irradiation with a second laser beam at intensities in the range 10(15)-10(16) W cm(-2) (250 ps, 438 nm) at various delays with respect to the first beam. The pre-plasma is characterized using x-ray spectroscopy, ion diagnostics and interferometry. Spectroscopy and calorimetry of the backscattered radiation is performed in the spectral range 250-850 nm, including (3/2)omega, omega and omega/2 emission. The fast electron production is characterized through spectroscopy and imaging of the K alpha emission. Information on the shock pressure is obtained using shock breakout chronometry and measurements of the craters produced by the shock in a massive target.
Preliminary results show that the backscattered energy is in the range 3-15%, mainly due to backscattered light at the laser wavelength (438 nm), which increases with increasing the delay between the two laser beams. The values of the peak shock pressures inferred from the shock breakout times are lower than expected from 2D numerical simulations. The same simulations reveal that the 2D effects play a major role in these experiments, with the laser spot size comparable with the distance between critical and ablation layers.

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