Culfa, O., Tallents, G. J., Wagenaars, E., Ridgers, C. P., Dance, R.J., Rossall, A. K., Gray, R.J., McKenna, Paul, Brown, C. D. R. and James, S. F. (2014) Hot electron production in laser solid interactions with a controlled pre-pulse. Physics of Plasmas, 21 (4). 043106. ISSN 1070-664X

Hot electron generation plays an important role in the fast ignition approach to inertial confinement fusion (ICF) and other applications with ultra-intense lasers. Hot electrons of temperature up to 10–20 MeV have been produced by high contrast picosecond duration laser pulses focussed to intensities of ∼1020 W cm−2 with a deliberate pre-pulse on solid targets using the Vulcan Petawatt Laser facility. We present measurements of the number and temperature of hot electrons obtained using an electron spectrometer. The results are correlated to the density scale length of the plasma produced by a controlled pre-pulse measured using an optical probe diagnostic. 1D simulations predict electron temperature variations with plasma density scale length in agreement with the experiment at shorter plasma scale lengths ( <7.5μ<7.5μ m), but with the experimental temperatures (13–17 MeV) dropping below the simulation values (20–25 MeV) at longer scale lengths. The experimental results show that longer interaction plasmas produced by pre-pulses enable significantly greater number of hot electrons to be produced.

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