Plasma devices to guide and collimate a high density of MeV electrons


The development of ultra-intense lasers1 has facilitated new studies in laboratory astrophysics2 and high-density nuclear science3, including laser fusion4,5,6,7. Such research relies on the efficient generation of enormous numbers of high-energy charged particles. For example, laser–matter interactions at petawatt (1015 W) power levels can create pulses of MeV electrons8,9,10 with current densities as large as 1012 A cm-2. However, the divergence of these particle beams5 usually reduces the current density to a few times 106 A cm-2 at distances of the order of centimetres from the source. The invention of devices that can direct such intense, pulsed energetic beams will revolutionize their applications. Here we report high-conductivity devices consisting of transient plasmas that increase the energy density of MeV electrons generated in laser–matter interactions by more than one order of magnitude. A plasma fibre created on a hollow-cone target guides and collimates electrons in a manner akin to the control of light by an optical fibre and collimator. Such plasma devices hold promise for applications using high energy-density particles and should trigger growth in charged particle optics.

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Figure 1: Two-dimensional cartesian particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation modelling the device consisting of hollow-cone and fine fibre-like plasmas.
Figure 2: Demonstration of guiding and collimation of high-density MeV electrons generated by 0.3 PW laser light using a fine carbon wire attached to a gold hollow-cone target.
Figure 3: Expansion of the fibre-like plasma heated by high-density energetic electrons propagating along the wire.
Figure 4: Collimation of MeV electrons in the shaped plasma conductors and enhancement of the electron peak flux with the collimators.


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We thank the target fabrication, laser operation and acquisition groups at ILE Osaka University. G.R.K. thanks JSPS for support.

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Correspondence to R. Kodama.

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