Effect of defocusing on picosecond laser-coupling into gold cones

I. A. Bush*, A. G. R. Thomas, L. Gartside, S. Sarfraz, E. Wagenaars, J. S. Green, M. Notley, H. Lowe, C. Spindloe, T. Winstone, A. P. L. Robinson, R. Clarke, T. Ma, T. Yabuuchi, M. Wei, F. N. Beg, R. B. Stephens, A. MacPhee, A. J. MacKinnon, M. H. KeyW. Nazarov, M. Sherlock, J. Pasley

*Corresponding author for this work

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Here, we show that defocusing of the laser in the interaction of a picosecond duration, 1.053 μm wavelength, high energy pulse with a cone-wire target does not significantly affect the laser energy coupling efficiency, but does result in a drop in the fast electron effective temperature. This may be beneficial for fast ignition, since not only were more electrons with lower energies seen in the experiment but also the lower prepulse intensity will reduce the amount of preplasma present on arrival of the main pulse, reducing the distance the hot electrons have to travel. We used the Vulcan Petawatt Laser at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and gold cone targets with approximately 1 mm long, 40 μm diameter copper wires attached to their tip. Diagnostics included a quartz crystal imager, a pair of highly oriented pyrolytic graphite crystal spectrometers and a calibrated CCD operating in the single photon counting regime, all of which looked at the copper Kα emission from the wire. A short pulse optical probe, delayed 400 ps relative to the main pulse was employed to diagnose the extent of plasma expansion around the wire. A ray-tracing code modeled the change in intensity on the interior surface of the cone with laser defocusing. Using a model for the wire copper Kα emission coupled to a hybrid Vlasov-Fokker-Planck code, we ran a series of simulations, holding the total energy in electrons constant whilst varying the electron temperature, which support the experimental conclusions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012702
Number of pages5
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Ignition
  • Plasma
  • Fusion
  • Density
  • Gain


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