Proton acceleration with high-intensity ultrahigh-contrast laser pulses

Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Nov 2;99(18):185002. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.99.185002. Epub 2007 Oct 31.


We report on simultaneous measurements of backward- and forward-accelerated protons spectra when an ultrahigh intensity (approximately 5 x 10(18) W/cm(20), ultrahigh contrast (>10(10)) laser pulse interacts with foils of thickness ranging from 0.08 to 105 microm. Under such conditions, free of preplasma originating from ionization of the laser-irradiated surface, we show that the maximum proton energies are proportional to the p component of the laser electric field only and not to the ponderomotive force and that the characteristics of the proton beams originating from both target sides are almost identical. All these points have been corroborated by extensive 1D and 2D particle-in-cell simulations showing a very good agreement with the experimental data.