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Investigation of a channeling high-intensity laser beam in underdense plasmas

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13 Author(s)
Najmudin, Z. ; Blackett Lab., Imperial Coll. of Sci., Technol. & Med., London, UK ; Dangor, A.E. ; Modena, A. ; Salvati, M.R.
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The interaction of an intense short pulse laser (>5×10 18 Wcm-2) with underdense plasma was extensively studied. The beam is found to be highly susceptible to the forward Raman scattering instability. At sufficiently high growth rates, this can lead to wavebreaking with the resultant production of a high flux of accelerated electrons (>1011 for E>2 MeV). Some electrons are found to be accelerated well above the dephasing energy, up to 94 MeV. Self-scattered images intimate the presence of high-intensity channels that extend more than 3.5 mm or 12 Rayleigh lengths. These filaments do not follow the axis of laser propagation, but are seen to be emitted within an f4 cone centered around this axis. Spectra of the self-scattered light show that the main contribution of the scattering is not from light captured within these filaments. But there is evidence for self-phase modulation from effects such as ionization and relativistic self-focusing. However, no clear correlation is observed between channel length and the number or energies of accelerated electrons. Evidence for high intensities within the channels is given by small-angle Thomson scattering of the plasma wave generated therein, with this method, the intensity is found to be of the order of 1018 Wcm-2 greater than 12 Rayleigh lengths from focus

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:28 ,  Issue: 4 )