X-ray spectroscopy of extreme states of matter created by petawatt-laser-driven nanostructured arrays

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics

Abstract

The direct coupling of energy from an optical laser to a near-solid-density plasma is limited due to
negligible penetration depths of light beyond the critical density of a material, making it difficult to
create homogeneous, dense, high-energy-density systems. However, by tailoring the surface
properties of materials at the nanoscale - in particular by producing nano-structured targets
composed of oriented, anisotropic nano-wires - novel samples can be developed with substantially
different optical properties. Such nano-wires have recently been shown capable of strongly
enhancing the coupling of matter with optical light, yielding absorptions exceeding 95%, and large
penetration depths in metallic samples.
This project will focus on investigating the interaction of light with such nano-structured targets, and
will study their behaviour when interacting with large-scale PW laser systems. These systems
show promise as a new way to access matter in conditions relevant to astrophysical and inertial
confinement fusion research, but also show potential as a novel source of bright laser-driven X-ray
and particle beams. A range of experimental diagnostics including X-ray emission spectroscopy will
be employed, and coupled with computational tools based on non-LTE atomic kinetics simulations.
This project is part-funded by OxCHEDS and is run in close collaboration with AWE. This project
falls within the EPSRC research areas of Plasma and lasers, and Light matter interaction and
optical phenomena.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509711/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1964304 Studentship EP/N509711/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2019 Oliver Samuel Humphries