Indexed on: 11 Dec '15Published on: 11 Dec '15Published in: Nature Communications
Table-top laser–plasma ion accelerators have many exciting applications, many of which require ion beams with simultaneous narrow energy spread and high conversion efficiency. However, achieving these requirements has been elusive. Here we report the experimental demonstration of laser-driven ion beams with narrow energy spread and energies up to 18 MeV per nucleon and ~5% conversion efficiency (that is 4 J out of 80-J laser). Using computer simulations we identify a self-organizing scheme that reduces the ion energy spread after the laser exits the plasma through persisting self-generated plasma electric (~1012 V m−1) and magnetic (~104 T) fields. These results contribute to the development of next generation compact accelerators suitable for many applications such as isochoric heating for ion-fast ignition and producing warm dense matter for basic science.