Short Intense Laser Pulse Collapse in Near-Critical Plasma
Physical Review Letters
It is observed that the interaction of an intense ultra-short laser pulse with an overdense gas jet results in the pulse collapse and the deposition of a significant part of energy in a small and well localized volume in the rising part of the gas jet, where the electrons are efficiently accelerated and heated. A collisionless plasma expansion over 150 microns at a sub-relativistic velocity (~c/3) has been optically monitored in time and space, and attributed to the quasistatic field ionization
... of the gas associated to the hot electron current. Numerical simulations in good agreement with the observations suggest the acceleration in the collapse region of relativistic electrons, along with the excitation of a sizeable magnetic dipole that sustains the electron current over several picoseconds. Perspectives of ion beam generation at high repetition rate directly from gas jets are discussed.