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Laser-plasma acceleration of quasi-monoenergetic protons from microstructured targets

Nature volume 439, pages 445448 (26 January 2006) | Download Citation



Particle acceleration based on high intensity laser systems (a process known as laser–plasma acceleration) has achieved high quality particle beams that compare favourably with conventional acceleration techniques in terms of emittance, brightness and pulse duration1,2,3,4. A long-term difficulty associated with laser–plasma acceleration—the very broad, exponential energy spectrum of the emitted particles—has been overcome recently for electron beams5,6,7. Here we report analogous results for ions, specifically the production of quasi-monoenergetic proton beams using laser–plasma accelerators. Reliable and reproducible laser-accelerated ion beams were achieved by intense laser irradiation of solid microstructured targets. This proof-of-principle experiment serves to illuminate the role of laser-generated plasmas as feasible particle sources. Scalability studies show that, owing to their compact size and reasonable cost, such table-top laser systems with high repetition rates could contribute to the development of new generations of particle injectors that may be suitable for medical proton therapy8,9,10.

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This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. T.E. thanks S. V. Bulanov for discussions. K.W.D.L. takes pleasure in the receipt of a Carl-Zeiss visiting professorship. We thank F. Ronneberger and B. Beleites for their technical support. We thank H.-J. Fuchs and W. Gräf for their help in producing the targets.

Author information


  1. Institut für Optik und Quantenelektronik, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, 07743 Jena, Germany

    • H. Schwoerer
    • , S. Pfotenhauer
    • , O. Jäckel
    • , K.-U. Amthor
    • , B. Liesfeld
    • , W. Ziegler
    • , R. Sauerbrey
    •  & K. W. D. Ledingham
  2. Department of Physics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G4 0NG, UK

    • K. W. D. Ledingham
  3. AWE plc, Aldermaston, Reading RG7 4PR, UK

    • K. W. D. Ledingham
  4. Kansai Research Establishment, JAERI, Kizu, Kyoto, 619-0215, Japan

    • T. Esirkepov
  5. Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Dolgoprudnyi, 141700, Russia

    • T. Esirkepov


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Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to H. Schwoerer.

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