Escaping Electrons from Intense Laser-Solid Interactions as a Function of Laser Spot Size

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Rusby, Dean ; Gray, Ross ; Butler, Nick ; Dance, Rachel ; Scott, Graeme ; Bagnoud, Vincent ; Zielbauer, Bernhard ; McKenna, Paul ; Neely, David (2018)

The interaction of a high-intensity laser with a solid target produces an energetic distribution of electrons that pass into the target. These electrons reach the rear surface of the target creating strong electric potentials that act to restrict the further escape of additional electrons. The measurement of the angle, flux and spectra of the electrons that do escape gives insights to the initial interaction. Here, the escaping electrons have been measured using a differentially filtered image plate stack, from interactions with intensities from mid 1020-1017 W/cm2, where the intensity has been reduced by defocussing to increase the size of the focal spot. An increase in electron flux is initially observed as the intensity is reduced from 4x1020 to 6x1018 W/cm2. The temperature of the electron distribution is also measured and found to be relatively constant. 2D particle-in-cell modelling is used to demonstrate the importance of pre-plasma conditions in understanding these observations.
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