Simulation of Magnetic Vortex Acceleration

Interaction of intense laser pulses with overdense targets such as foils, foams, and liquid films can lead to high-energy proton and ion acceleration. This simulation shows acceleration occurring in the Magnetic Vortex Acceleration regime.

The interaction of an ultra-intense laser pulse and plasma can produce ultrahigh electric field gradients—more than three orders of magnitude beyond those of conventional radio-frequency accelerators. The BELLA PW laser can accelerate ions to energies from 10 MeV to more than 100 MeV. Other types of radiation, like electrons, X-rays, and gamma rays, are also emitted in short bursts from these hot, dense plasmas.

The photon bursts are very short (a trillionth of a second) and extremely bright, making them suitable for studying ultrafast phenomena in depth with high signal rates. Applications include fundamental studies of high energy density science, probes for warm, dense matter to improve our understanding of inertial fusion plasmas, proton beams for fast ignition studies in inertial confinement fusion, and ion beams for the study of the FLASH effect in radiotherapy cancer treatment, as well as for creating new materials for quantum information science and superconductivity.

BELLA Center and Biological Systems and Engineering Division researchers adjust a cell cartridge inserter at the end of the BELLA PW proton beam line.

The electromagnetic fields created with high-power lasers and plasmas are among the highest on Earth. Understanding the dynamics of charged particles in such powerful fields is essential to understanding the most extreme environments in our universe. The high-power laser pulses can collide with electron beams from laser-plasma accelerators or with other laser pulses for basic research in high-field science and new ultra-bright sources of particles and photons.