Abstract

Ion bursts, accelerated by an ultrafast (40fs) laser-assisted target normal sheath acceleration mechanism, can be adjusted so as to deliver a nearly pure proton beam. Such laser-driven proton bursts have predominantly a low transverse emittance and a broad kinetic spectrum suitable for continuous probing of the temporal evolution of spatially extended electric fields that arise after laser irradiation of thin foils. Fields with a strength of up to 1010Vm were measured with a new streaklike proton deflectometry setup. The data show the temporal and spatial evolution of electric fields that are due to target charge-up and ion-front expansion following intense laser–target interaction at intensities of 10171018Wcm2. Measurement of the field evolution is important to gain further insight into lateral electron-transport processes and the influence of field dynamics on ion beam properties.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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