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Fast collisional electron heating and relaxation in thin foils driven by a circularly polarized ultraintense short-pulse laser

Journal article
Authors A. Sundstrom
L. Gremillet
Evangelos Siminos
I. Pusztai
Published in Journal of Plasma Physics
Volume 86
Issue 2
Pages 19
ISSN 0022-3778
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 19
Language en
Keywords plasma simulation, plasma heating, plasma dynamics, plasma, hot, Physics
Subject categories Physical Sciences


The creation of well-thermalized, hot and dense plasmas is attractive for warm dense matter studies. We investigate collisionally induced energy absorption of an ultraintense and ultrashort laser pulse in a solid copper target using particle-in-cell simulations. We find that, upon irradiation by a 2 x 10(20) Wcm(-2) intensity, 60 fs duration, circularly polarized laser pulse, the electrons in the collisional simulation rapidly reach a well-thermalized distribution with similar to 3 :5 keV temperature, while in the collisionless simulation the absorption is several orders of magnitude weaker. Circular polarization inhibits the generation of suprathermal electrons, while ensuring efficient bulk heating through inverse bremsstrahlung, a mechanism usually overlooked at relativistic laser intensity. An additional simulation, taking account of both collisional and field ionization, yields similar results: the bulk electrons are heated to similar to 2:5 keV, but with a somewhat lower degree of thermalization than in the pre-set, fixed-ionization case. The collisional absorption mechanism is found to be robust against variations in the laser parameters. At fixed laser pulse energy, increasing the pulse duration rather than the intensity leads to a higher electron temperature.

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