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Ion energy loss at maximum stopping power in a laser-generated plasma

  • Cayzac, Witold
Publication Date
Dec 02, 2013
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In the frame of this thesis, a new experimental setup for the measurement of the energy loss of carbon ions at maximum stopping power in a hot laser-generated plasma has been developed and successfully tested. In this parameter range where the projectile velocity is of the same order of magnitude as the thermal velocity of the plasma free electrons, large uncertainties of up to 50% are present in the stopping-power description. To date, no experimental data are available to perform a theory benchmarking. Testing the different stopping theories is yet essential for inertial confinement fusion and in particular for the understanding of the alpha-particle heating of the thermonuclear fuel. Here, for the first time, precise measurements were carried out in a reproducible and entirely characterized beam-plasma configuration. It involved a nearly fully-stripped ion beam probing a homogeneous fully-ionized plasma. This plasma was generated by irradiating a thin carbon foil with two high-energy laser beams and features a maximum electron temperature of 200 eV. The plasma conditions were simulated with a two-dimensional radiative hydrodynamic code, while the ion-beam charge-state distribution was predicted by means of a Monte-Carlo code describing the charge-exchange processes of projectile ions in plasma. To probe at maximum stopping power, high-frequency pulsed ion bunches were decelerated to an energy of 0.5 MeV per nucleon. The ion energy loss was determined by a time-of-flight measurement using a specifically developed chemical-vapor-deposition diamond detector that was screened against any plasma radiation. A first experimental campaign was carried out using this newly developed platform, in which a precision better than 200 keV on the energy loss was reached. This allowed, via the knowledge of the plasma and of the beam parameters, to reliably test several stopping theories, either based on perturbation theory or on a nonlinear T-Matrix formalism. A preliminary analysis suggests that the energy deposition at maximum stopping power is significantly smaller than predicted, particularly, by perturbation approaches.

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