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Ultrafast Laser-Driven

Plasma for Space


Propulsion
Terry Kammash, K. Flippo

, T. Lin,
A. Maksimchuk, M. Rever,
S. Banerjee, D. Umstadter
FOCUS Center / Center for Ultrafast Optical Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2099, USA
Y. Sentoku
General Atomics, San Diego, CA
V. Yu. Bychenkov
P. N. Lebedev Physics Institute, Russian Academy of Science, 117924 Moscow, Russia
Lasers supported by the National Science Foundation FOCUS Center
and the U of M Center for Ultrafast Optical Science, and funding from NASA Institute For Advanced Concepts
Accelerator Setup
Proton
Beam
CUOS T
3
Laser Parameters:
Ti:Sapphire / Nd:Glass
1.053 mm (
o
),
527nm (2
o
)
up to ~12 TW
5 J
400 fs
Contrast: 10
-5
:1 @
o
,
10
-7
:1 @2
o
2x10
18
- 2x10
19
W/cm
2
Target Normal
Forward Direction
Laser
Forward
Direction
CR-39
Detector
FWHM = 4.3 um
Incident Laser Spot
Front Surface Deuteron Acceleration
Activation of
10
B to
11
C is achieved only by illuminating deuterons on the
front surface.
No activation when deuterons were on the back surface, or without
deuterons (i.e. no production of
11
C detected from
11
B (p,n)
11
C reaction).
Deuterons have about the E
max
of the measured protons
10
100
1000
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
C
o
u
n
t
s
/
2

m
i
n
Time after shot (min)
Decay for
11
C
I
las
=6x10
18
W/cm
2
Detection efficiency 15%
10
B(d,n)
11
C reaction
Boron
sample
Laser
Mylar film
CD
11
C
10
B
Deuterons
n
K. Nemoto, S. Banerjee, K. Flippo , A. Maksimchuk, D. Umstadter App. Phys. Lett, 78, 595 (2001)
Radioisotope Activation with
Protons
NaI PMT
to MCA
Sample
protons
Laser
target
collimator &
shield
NaI PMT
to MCA

1
10
100
1000
0 2000 4000 6000 8000
C
o
u
n
t


(
0
.
5
1
1

M
e
V
)
Time (sec)
t ~ 38 min
Cu (p,n) Zn
63
63
Laser Induced

0
200
400
600
800
1000
0 50 100 150 200 250 300
C
o
u
n
t
s
Channel
Singles Spectrum
B (p,n) C
11 11
0.511 MeV
Sort
window

10
100
1000
3000
0 200 400 600 800 1000
C
o
u
n
t


(
0
.
5
1
1

M
e
V
)
Time (sec)
B (p, n) C
11 11
t = 20 min
Laser Induced
Material Effect on Proton
Production
E
e
-
Conductor
Insulator
p
+
p
+
p
+
B
B
e
-
E
Mylar (polyethylene terephthalate C
10
H
8
O
4
)
~1.2 g/cm
3
=10
-12

-1
m
-1
Z=4.3
Aluminum
~2.7 g/cm
3
=3.610
7

-1
m
-1
Z=13
p
+
e
-
p
+
p
+
laser
laser
target
target
Beam Profile Dependence
on Initial Target Composition
RCF (a,c,e,g) / CR-39 (b,d,f,h) detector stack images for 13m Mylar, 10 m silicon,
12.5 m aluminum, and 12.5 m copper targets. All pairs are single shot except (c) and
(d) which were two separate shots. RCF records protons between ~0.2 and ~2 MeV, CR-39
records protons between ~2.5- ~4 MeV. Except (d) which recorded between ~1.2 MeV and 3 MeV
Beam Profile Dependence
on Target Thickness
(a) 6 m, (b) 13 m , (c) 25 m, (d) 50 m, and (e) 100 m
(a) 4 m, (b) 12.5 m, (c) 25 m, (d) 50 m, and (e) 75 m
Call out: White arrows
point to beam
filamentation, most
likely a manifestation
of the Weibel,
instability.
Comparison with
Simulation
Images:
Contrast enhanced RCF images of proton beam profiles after a drift of 5 cm from target
exit from experiments with 13 microns of Mylar (a) top left, and 12.5 microns of
aluminum (b) bottom left. Compare an electron beam profile from a simulation (c) by L.
Gremillet, et al. [Phys. Plasmas 9, 941(2002)], showing the transverse electron profile
jb/enc at 20 microns inside a silica target for a propagating monoenergetic electron beam
of energy 500 keV, after 405 fs of propagation, which is also the beam duration. Image
reproduced with permission.
Silica
Observed profiles e-beam simulation
Magnetic Field from Simulation vs.
Proton Beam Profile
E field configuration
plot from the simulation
at 405 fs. Notice the
similarities in the
simulation slices to
proton beam images in
row (I) of the previous
slide.
e-beam induced B field
evolution is very similar to
that of the proton beam
profile seen from Mylar
previously.
And as shown by
M. Honda, J. Meyer-ter-Vehn
and A. Pukov, PRL 85 2128
(2000) the ions can follow the
electron filaments in as little
as 60 fs.
Electron Distribution From Al
Target
Protons
X-ray Film
laser
Target
Top View
Target
Holder
Shadow
X-ray Film Line Out
X-ray Film
Holder
0
Protons From Front Surface
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
0 50 100 150 200
Target Thickness [microns]
M
a
x
i
m
u
m

P
r
o
t
o
n

E
n
e
r
g
y

[
M
e
V
]

E
i max
~ 13 m
Simulation of proton beam
Sentokus[1] recent 1-D PIC
simulations predict a 5 MeV
beam from the front surface
for a 400fs laser pulse, with
about 13 MeV from the rear.
This agrees well with the
observed 4 MeV trend, and a
maximum of about 12 MeV.
[1] Y. Sentoku Phys.
Plasmas 10 2009 (2003)
Deuteron Acceleration
Preliminary Results
Deuteron coating
No deuteron coating
p
+
d
+
p
+
Where do highest energy deuterons come from?
1. The BACK of 12.5um Al
2. The FRONT of 6 um Mylar
3. The FRONT of 13 um Mylar
4. The FRONT of 12.5 um Al
5. The BACK of 13 um Mylar
Proton Energy Scaling with Pulse
Duration and Intensity
From Y. Sentoku, T. E. Cowan, A. Kemp, and H. Ruhl
Physics of Plasmas 10, 2009 (2003)
14.5 MeV
> 30 MeV
Current
T-cubed
System
Future
HERCULES
System
Peak Proton Energy
vs. Spot Size
E = 190.87d
1.7404
0
1000
2000
3000
4000
5000
6000
3 3.5 4 4.5 5 5.5 6 6.5 7
Spot size diameter [microns]
P
e
a
k

P
r
o
t
o
n

E
n
e
r
g
y

[
k
e
V
]
f/3.3 off-axis parabola
f/1.5 off-axis parabola
Power Scaling Fit
For intensities of ~
1.4 x 10
19
W/cm
2
For intensities of ~
2.5 x 10
19
W/cm
2
E =190.87 x d
1.704
Spot Size Comparison
Total Intensity vs. Diameter for f/1.5 Paraboloid
4.3 FWHM Spot Size
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
Spot Size Diameter [um]
T
o
t
a
l

E
n
e
r
g
y

[
%
]
Profile of 4.3m FWHM Spot
0
10000
20000
30000
40000
50000
60000
-15 -10 -5 0 5 10 15
Radial Position [m]
I
n
t
e
n
s
i
t
y

[
a
.
u
.
]
40% in FWHM
Spot Size Comparison
Total Intensity vs. Diameter for f/3.3 Parabaloid
FWHM Focal Spot of 6.4 Microns 8-17-01
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
Spot Size Diameter [um]
T
o
t
a
l

E
n
e
r
g
y

[
%
]
Profile of 6.4 m FWHM Spot
0
10000
20000
30000
40000
50000
60000
-20 -10 0 10 20
Radial Position [m]
I
n
t
e
n
s
i
t
y

[
a
.
u
.
]
35% in FWHM
Material Effects on Plume Profile
Proton Beam Images Using a CCD
Laser
Propagation
Direction
Target
Plane
Dark
Side
Illuminated
Side
4 Al Target,
4MeV beam
No backfilled
gas,
200 mTorr
ambient
4 um Al
Target
with 2
Torr H
2
25 um
Mylar
Target
25 um
Mylar
Target
with 2.4
Torr He
25 um Al
Target
Proton Beam is
Emitted Normal to Target
Plume Evolution in 1 Torr H
2
Ambient Backfill
12.5 mm Al
+4 ms +1 ms +4 ms +14 ms
3.069 cm
25 mm Mylar
2.138 cm
~31000 m/s
2.222cm
3.194 cm
~32000 m/s
1 cm
+ 65.5us
+1 ms
Target Geometry
>1.4 MeV, 55 div.
@ 1.5x10
19
W/cm
2
>2 MeV, 38 div.
@ 1.2x10
19
W/cm
2
> 1.4 MeV, 44 div.
@ 1.6x10
19
W/cm
2
> 3 MeV, 28 div.
@ 1.2x10
19
W/cm
2
Laser
Protons
Target
Target
Holder
Curved Target
Geometry
25 m Al
Radius of
curvature
~ 0.2 mm
Radius of
curvature
~ 0.5 mm
Target Geometry
~100 Micron Half Wire Cross-sections
Focus on
flat surface
Focus on
round surface
Wire orientation:
Protons
Laser
Protons
Protons
Laser
Wire position
CR-39
Flat
Round
l
a
s
e
r
l
a
s
e
r
Beam Images:
Focusing on flat surface
(840) creates an ion
beam, while focusing on
the round side produces
a cylindrical-like spray
Target Surface Geometry
Electron Microscopy
of LaserBlack
Results:
30 mm Laserblack target ~
8.2 MeV
Enhancement in the number
of maximum energy protons
Beam profile does not suffer,
regardless of which surface
has been coated, i.e. no
imprinting even from rear-side
100 m
2 m
Murnane et al. APL 62 (1993) used gratings and clusters,
Kulcsar et al. PRL 84 (2000) used metallic velvet.
Both showed enhanced X-ray yield from enhance electron
heating from efficient coupling.
LaserBlack

is > 96% absorptive at 1 mm.


Laser Spot Size ~ 6 microns
Use a material which will trap the laser light, to
enhance the generation of hot electrons.
>1.3MeV
31 div.
T-cube Laser
Thin Film Target
Mesh
Radiochromic Film
51.8 lines high
Proton Radiography
The possibility exists to use the
laser produced proton beam for
very small scale imaging or even
lithography.
The image on the left is a 5x
magnified proton radiograph
captured on RCF of a mesh with
10 micron wires and 30 micron
grid spacing.
Proton Beam
1 mm
1 mm
Approximate Region
Sampled by Beam
Area of Image at Right
Future Laser Development
100-200 TW
@ 25-40 fs
0.1 Hz 350 ps 7-10 J 2-pass
Amplifier
20-30 TW
@ 25 fs
10 Hz 350 ps 1-1.5 J 4-pass
Amplifier
1 PW @ 30-40 fs 0.1 Hz 350ps 50 J High-Power
Amplifier
N/A 10 Hz 350 ps 100 mJ Regenerative
Amplifier
N/A 10 Hz 15 fs 1 mJ Cleaner
(10
6
contrast)
N/A 80 Mhz 10-15 fs 1 nJ Oscillator
Compressed
Output
Repetition
Rate
Pulse width Energy
Current Hercules
Proton Acceleration Summary
Simulation and experiment support proton acceleration at the
laser-irradiated side of the target of a 4 MeV beam, on the back
of the underdense plasma under these conditions.
And a 12 MeV beam from the rear-surface of Al due to
recirculation sheath enhancement.
Beam spectrum has bands of energies due to ion fronts.
Beam profile smoothes out as initial target conductivity
increases.
Filamentation and structures similar to the electron simulation
by Gremillet et. al have been observed.
Demonstrated beam profile modification with modest geometry,
and enhancement of number at the maximum energy achieved
by initial target geometry and surface conditions
CR-39 response is highly non-linear when scanned optically.
By using a highly absorptive material we have increased the
number of maximum energy protons without sacrificing beam
quality. No imprint of LB on beam profile, unlike Roth et. al
New 30 fs laser has produced 10
21
W/cm
2
on target in a 1 micron
spot, expect high efficiency acceleration
Ion Acceleration Physics Relativistic
Electron Cloud (Beam) Model One-
Dimensional
Poissons Equation
E=-4 en
b
Where:
e=electron charge
n
b
=beam electron density
Can readily show:
E
z
=2en
b
h
Where:
h=thickness of electron cloud
R=radius of electron cloud
d=diameter of electron cloud
d
R
E
z
Physics Continued
Energy conservation for electrons in cloud
PE=KE
PEe
2
n
b
h
2
KE=(
b
-1)m
o
c
2
where
b
=Relativistic Parameter
Hence:
h=(
b
-1)m
o
c
2
/e
2
n
b
= =(
b
-1)/r
e
n
b
Where: r
e
=classical electron radius
r
e
=e
2
/m
o
c
2
=2.810
-13
Substituting into exp. for E
z
we get
E
z
=2cm
o
(
b
-1)n
b
Example
We begin with

b
=10
n
b
=10
19
cm
-3
h=10m
E
z
=913GV/m
Over a distance of h=10 m, the electron
acquires an energy of
E
b
=9 MeV
Continued
The Ion Energy
E
i
=ZE
b
=ZeE
z
h
E
i
=9MeV (Z=1)
Mean Ion Velocity V
i
is given by
m
i
V
i
2
=ZeE
z
h
And the ion acceleration time t
i
is
t
i
=h/V
i
or
t
i
=m
i
/Ze
2
n
b
Two Asymptotic Regimes for
Ion Acceleration
1. Isothermal expansion relevant
to long pulse lengths i.e.
>t
i
(t
i
=1ps)
Ions acquire exponential distribution
in velocity
dn
i
/dv ~ exp-( v/C
S
)
Where C
S
=ZT
e
/m
i
= ion sound
speed
Two Asymptotic Regimes for
Ion Acceleration
2. Adiabatic regime corresponding to
shorter, sub picosecond pulses i.e.
<<t
i
Here ion distribution is steeper
and the form
dn
i
/dv ~ exp-( v
2
/2C
S
2
)
For the adiabatic expansion electron
cooling takes place according
T
e
=T
e0
(t
i
/t)
2
Ion Velocities
Maxium Ion Velocities:
Isothermal v
max
=2C
S
ln(d/h)
Adiabatic v
max
=22C
S
ln(d/h)
Note in both instances:
Ion Acceleration is more efficient
when
(d/h)>>1
i.e. for larger focal spots
Relationship Between Ion Energy,
Laser and Target Parameters
Consider power balance between laser and
ejected electrons:
[n
b
(
b
-1)m
o
c
2
]c=I
Where
=Efficiency of energy transfer
Rewrites as

e
=I/n
b
c
Also electron must exceed Coulomb Energy to
penetrate the target i.e.
n
b
=
e
/(e
2
hR)
Relationship Between Ion Energy,
Laser and Target Parameters
Combining we get:

e
=e
2
IRh /c
Since h = laser wave length, then

e
=e
2
IRh /c
And

i
=Z
e
If we express intensity I in units of 10
18
W/cm
2
and R and in microns then

i
=Z
e
IR MeV
An Example
I=10
21
W/cm
2
=0.10
R=2.5 m
Then

i
=14 MeV
Thrust
F=N
i
M
i
V
i
M
i
= ion mass (proton) = 1.6 10
-27
kg
= representation rate 1kHz
V
i
= ion velocity (14 MeV) = 5.210
7
m/s
Plasma Expansion in Vacuum
Ion acceleration time
t
i
=h/v
i
= 1910
-15
sec
Pulse length (projected)
=3010
-15
Then
>t
i
Expansion is Isothermal
v
i max
= 2 C
S
ln(d/h)
C
S
= ZT
e
/m
i
=310
7
m/sec
v
i max
= 10
8
m/sec
V
i initial
510
7
m/sec
Specific Impulse
Note improvement in energy transfer
efficiency for increasing (d/h), namely
for larger aspect ratios
27.610
7
27.610
7
4.61 100
23.510
7
23.510
7
3.91 50
13.810
7
13.810
7
2.3 10
9.710
7
9.710
7
1.61 5
Max I
sp
(s) V
imax
(m/s) ln(d/h) d/h
Accomplishments Thus Far
1. Generate a Relativistically Consistent
Mathematical Expression for the energy
of the ejected ion as a function of laser
and target parameters, i.e.
E
i
=z IR
where
z = ion charge
= energy conversion efficiency
R = radius of focal spot
= laser wave length
Accomplishments Thus Far
2. Experimentally validated
E
i
~ I
Ei~
3. Indirectly established relationships
relating E
i
to R and dependence on .
More work is needed in this area!
Just purchased 5 parabolic mirrors to
investigate thoroughly dependence of
E
i
and total number of ejected
particles on R.
Accomplishments Thus Far
4. Experimentally established dependence of
E
i
on target thickness t, optimized t10
5. Experimentally established conditions for
filamentation instability
P =5P
c
=5[17(
o
/
p
)
2
GW]
4Tc/
p
a
0
2R
c = speed of light
a
0
=8.510
-10
[m] I
1/2
[W/cm
2
]

p
=plasma frequency
R= radius of focal spot
Accomplishments Thus Far
4. Experimentally established energy of ions
ejected from front and rear surfaces of
target which appear to agree well with
simulations
5. Established dependence of proton beam
profiles on materials, surface conditions
and geometry
6. Carried out designs of space Nuclear
Reactor for use in LAPPS. Likely candidates
are gas-cooled Cermet reactors using
Uranium, Plutonium or Americium as fuel.