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Title: Characterisation of plasma mirror activation and laser-driven ion studies
Author: Foster, Peta Suzanne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 9137
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2014
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In this thesis, a body of work is presented which contributes towards the improved understanding of plasma mirror operation and in 'particular, the switch-on dynamics and picosecond timescale reflectivity. Degradation in the performance of the baseline anti-reflective properties of the plasma mirrors is observed 1.5 picoseconds prior to the main pulse peak. This is believed to be the first observation of this effect. The rise time of these plasma optics is measured in a simple numerical model constructed to elucidate the underlying physics. The ultimate aim is to reveal the underlying dynamics so as to be able to ascertain how to best operate these optics to achieve ultra-high contrast. This would benefit high-intensity interactions, potentially enhancing laser-driven ion acceleration and high harmonic production. This thesis also explores the use of these enhanced-contrast pulses in laser-driven ion acceleration studies, at the cutting edge of both on-target intensity and ultra-thin foil thickness. Continuous wave laser heating of skin depth foils is investigated for the purpose of contaminant removal and target thinning. In addition, ultra-high intensity interactions were explored, where it was hoped the dynamics might indicate a transition to a new and more efficient acceleration regime, namely radiation pressure acceleration. Both of these ion studies have a key signature of higher peak ion energies, and although the energy range of ions was not increased as far as had been hoped, the thesis endeavors to shed light on the current observations and highlight limitations encountered, such as to inform the ongoing research moving forward.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available