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  1. Abstract

    The past decade has seen tremendous progress in the production and utilization of vortex and vector laser pulses. Although both are considered as structured light beams, the vortex lasers have helical phase fronts and phase singularities, while the vector lasers have spatially variable polarization states and polarization singularities. In contrast to the vortex pulses that carry orbital angular momentum (OAM), the vector laser pulses have a complex spin angular momentum (SAM) and OAM coupling. Despite many potential applications enabled by such pulses, the generation of high-power/-intensity vortex and vector beams remains challenging. Here, we demonstrate using theory and three-dimensional simulations that the strongly-coupled stimulated Brillouin scattering (SC-SBS) process in plasmas can be used as a promising amplification technique with up to 65% energy transfer efficiency from the pump beam to the seed beam for both vortex and vector pulses. We also show that SC-SBS is strongly polarization-dependent in plasmas, enabling an all-optical polarization control of the amplified seed beam. Additionally, the interaction of such structured lasers with plasmas leads to various angular momentum couplings and decouplings that produce intense new light structures with controllable OAM and SAM. This scheme paves the way for novel optical devices such as plasma-based amplifiers and light field manipulators.

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  2. We are developing an X-ray source for radiography of high-energy density (HED) experiments by passing a picosecond, relativistic laser beam through an underdense plasma to generate a relativistic beam of electrons. These electrons, in turn, generate bright, (1010 photon/keV/sr), high energy (10 keV - 1 MeV) X-rays. Over the years, this X-ray platform has been demonstrated on the Titan, Omega EP, and NIF-ARC lasers. This paper gives the present state of the field and argues that the platform has reached a level of maturity where the X-rays produced using this novel platform have the potential to find radiographic applications in a broad range of fields. Index Terms—X-ray, High Energy Density Science (HEDS), Self-Modulated Plasma Instability, NIF, OMEGA, Backlighter 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 26, 2024
  3. The origin of the seed magnetic field that is amplified by the galactic dynamo is an open question in plasma astrophysics. Aside from primordial sources and the Biermann battery mechanism, plasma instabilities have also been proposed as a possible source of seed magnetic fields. Among them, thermal Weibel instability driven by temperature anisotropy has attracted broad interests due to its ubiquity in both laboratory and astrophysical plasmas. However, this instability has been challenging to measure in a stationary terrestrial plasma because of the difficulty in preparing such a velocity distribution. Here, we use picosecond laser ionization of hydrogen gas to initialize such an electron distribution function. We record the 2D evolution of the magnetic field associated with the Weibel instability by imaging the deflections of a relativistic electron beam with a picosecond temporal duration and show that the measured k -resolved growth rates of the instability validate kinetic theory. Concurrently, self-organization of microscopic plasma currents is observed to amplify the current modulation magnitude that converts up to ~1% of the plasma thermal energy into magnetic energy, thus supporting the notion that the magnetic field induced by the Weibel instability may be able to provide a seed for the galactic dynamo. 
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  4. Absolute density measurements of low-ionization-degree or low-density plasmas ionized by lasers are very important for understanding strong-field physics, atmospheric propagation of intense laser pulses, Lidar etc. A cross-polarized common-path temporal interferometer using balanced detection was developed for measuring plasma density with a sensitivity of ∼0.6 mrad, equivalent to a plasma density-length product of ∼2.6 × 1013cm−2if using an 800 nm probe laser. By using this interferometer, we have investigated strong-field ionization yield versus intensity for various noble gases (Ar, Kr, and Xe) using 800 nm, 55 fs laser pulses with both linear (LP) and circular (CP) polarization. The experimental results were compared to the theoretical models of Ammosov-Delone-Krainov (ADK) and Perelomov-Popov-Terent’ev (PPT). We find that the measured phase change induced by plasma formation can be explained by the ADK theory in the adiabatic tunneling ionization regime, while PPT model can be applied to all different regimes. We have also measured the photoionization and fractional photodissociation of molecular (MO) hydrogen. By comparing our experimental results with PPT and MO-PPT models, we have determined the likely ionization pathways when using three different pump laser wavelengths of 800 nm, 400 nm, and 267 nm.

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  5. null (Ed.)