High-intensity lasers as radiation sources
An overview of laser-induced nuclear reactions and applications
EC-JRC Institute for Transuranium Elements, Postfach 2340, 76125 Karlsruhe, Germany
2 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK
Corresponding author: Jean.GALY@ec.europa.eu
In the last decade or so, an evolution in experimental relativistic laser-plasma physics has led to highly sophisticated lasers which are now capable of generating ultra-short pulses and can be focused to intensities in excess of 1021 W cm-2. The laser interaction with solid or gas targets can generate collimated beams of highly energetic electrons, protons and ions. These high-intensity laser systems, therefore, turn out to be versatile and powerful sources of radiation and high-energy particles, without recourse to large-scale facilities such as nuclear reactors or particle accelerators. The potential to induce various kinds of nuclear reactions with laser-induced radiation fields has been demonstrated at several laboratories in recent years. The present paper lays out a comprehensive overview of nuclear reactions induced by high-intensity laser matter interactions. Mechanisms for electron, proton and ion acceleration, in addition to secondary bremsstrahlung, positron and neutron production, are addressed, with a focus on the types of nuclear reactions that are possible and potential applications. Discussion of the extrapolation of these processes and applications to the next generation of table-top lasers under construction is also presented.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2009