Abstract

A new method of optical guidance by the implosion phase of a fast Z-pinch discharge in a gas-filled capillary is proposed. An imploding plasma column has a concave electron-density profile in the radial direction, just before a stagnation phase driven by a converging current sheet and a shock wave. The feasibility of optical guidance of a high-intensity >1×1017 W/cm2 Ti:sapphire laser pulse by use of this method over a distance of 2 cm, corresponding to 12.5 times the Rayleigh length, has been experimentally demonstrated. The guiding-channel formation process was directly probed with a He–Ne laser beam. The electron density in the fully ionized channel was estimated to be 2.0×1017 cm-3 on the axis and 7.0×1017 cm-3 on the peaks of the channel edge, with a diameter of 70 µm, as indicated by the experimental results, which were corroborated by a magnetohydrodynamics simulation.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

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