Developments in laser technology have enabled high power lasers to produce multi terrawatt ultrashort pulses, which allow examining the fundamental physics of high intensity laser-matter interaction. Recently an interest has developed in the use of such intense lasers for ion acceleration up to multi-MeV energies. Experiments held in the laboratories all around the World have proven the possibility of transformation of the laser energy to collimated ultra-fast ion bunches with high efficiency when focusing ultra-short laser pulses of high intensity on solid targets. Among potential applications of the laser ion acceleration are: development of a compact proton source for radiography and imaging, tool for the experiments in nuclear physics at extremely short time scales, development of the technique for ‘‘table-top’’ production of radio-nuclides for medical applications, new methods of a treatment in nuclear medicine, injectors for relativistic ion accelerators and “fast ignition” concept of ICF light ions. The commonly recognized effect responsible for ion acceleration is the charge separation in plasma due to high-energy electrons driven by the laser inside the target. Because of numerous mechanisms of electric field generation different regimes of ion acceleration are possible. Our basic interest in the project is to investigate the mechanisms of ion acceleration in the interaction of laser pulse with mass limited targets depending on laser and target parameters and formulate practical recommendations on optimisation of ion yield with given characteristics for laser intensities of current interest. The main efforts of this project will be devoted to development of the theory and numerical codes, which describe physical characteristics of fast particles generated at the interaction of high intensity short laser pulse with a mass limited targets but experimental studies for verifying some results of theory and simulations will be done as well.
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