Intensity dependence of electron gas kinetics in a laser corona
Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Na Slovance 2, 182 21 Prague 8, Czech Republic
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Published online: 15 November 2013
In various experimental situations relevant to the laser fusion, such as plasma near the light entrance holes of hohlraum in the indirect drive experiments or more recently in the shock ignition direct drive a relatively long underdense plasma of corona type is encountered, which is subject to an intense nanosecond laser beam. The plasma is only weakly collisional and thus in the electron phase space a complicated kinetic evolution is going on, which is taking the electron gas fairly far from the thermal equilibrium and contributes to its unstable behaviour. These phenomena impede the absorption and thermalization of the incoming laser energy, create groups of fast electrons and also may lead to a non-linear reflection of the heating laser beam. One of the key processes leading to the electron acceleration is the stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) in its non-linear phase. The SRS in the presence of electron-ion collisions requires a certain threshold intensity above which the mentioned non-dissipative phenomena can occur and develop to the stage, where they may become unpleasant for the fusion experiments. To assess this intensity limit a computational model has been developed based on the Vlasov-Maxwell kinetics describing such a plasma in 1D geometry. At a relatively high intensity of 1016 W/cm2 a number of non-linear phenomena are predicted by the code such as a saturation of Landau damping, which is then translated in an unfavourable time dependence of the reflected light intensity and formation of accelerated electron groups due to the electron trapping. The purpose of the present contribution is to map the intensity dependence of this non-linear development with the aim of assessing its weight in fusion relevant situations.
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