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ENSURE Report Summary

Project ID: 647554
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ENSURE (Exploring the New Science and engineering unveiled by Ultraintense ultrashort Radiation interaction with mattEr)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The aim of the ENSURE project is the theoretical, numerical and experimental investigation of novel ion acceleration mechanisms in the interaction of ultrashort (10^-12 to 10^-14 s), superintense (10^19-10^23 W/cm2) laser pulses with solid targets whose properties (composition, thickness, density profile) are controlled down to the nanoscale.
The topic of ion acceleration by intense laser pulses has attracted an impressive amount of experimental and theoretical work and can now be considered as one of the most active and innovative areas of laser and plasma physics. The appealing features of laser-driven ion beams (e.g. the extremely short acceleration length, high collimation, very low emittance, picosecond duration of the ion bunch), not found for conventional ion sources, are promising for applications and are promising for several scientific, technological and societal applications which are based on the unique properties of localized energy deposition by ion beams in dense matter.
The ENSURE project has a strong focus towards the use of these beams for novel key applications in materials (material irradiation and advanced characterization) & nuclear (ion-driven secondary particle/exotic nuclei sources) science and engineering. These goals are pursued integrating in an unprecedented way advanced expertise and methods from materials science and engineering, laser-plasma physics and computational science into a single team.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Period 1-18 months.

In the following, a short description of the activities conducted, together with the related main achievements for each running task is given:

Task1.1. Several nanostructured films have been produced exploiting the features of pulsed laser deposition. Low density tungsten-oxygen films have been deposited for experiments related to laser matter interaction in the nanosecond regime. Ultra-low density carbon foam films have been deposited for laser driven ion acceleration experiments. In addition high density tungsten films have been prepared for exposure to plasmas and ion beams. The achievements of these activities have been included in several publications (Prencipe et al. PPCF 58 (2016), Passoni et al. PRAB 19 (2016), Maffini et al. NF 56 (2016), Besozzi et al Mat.&Des. 106 (2016)) and has been presented in several conferences and workshops: Maffini et al. WG4 “Secondary sources of particles and radiation, Materials” (Belgrade, Serbia, 2016); Dellasega et al., Maffini et al, Besozzi et al at the 22nd International conference on plasma surface interactions in controlled fusion devices (Rome, Italy, 2016).
Task 1.2. In order to achieve the ENSURE goals related to the experimental activities, an upgrade of several equipment already present at the HI has been carried out. In addition, new laboratory facilities are currently in preparation to host the following new equipment:
- a 100fs, 5mJ, 800nm Ti:Sa Laser system, with properties suitable to be adopted and optimized for the development of a pulsed laser deposition facility working with fs laser pulses. The tender procedure has been already completed within the first 18 months of the project. The delivery is expected for June 2017. The corresponding costs for the ENSURE project will be calculated and applied in the next reporting periods, taking into account the depreciation policies to be followed.
- a specifically designed interaction chamber, which is an essential part of the new fs-PLD deposition system. The fs laser pulse is focused on a target material. As a result of the laser-matter interaction atoms and clusters are ejected from the target and deposited on a substrate. The interaction chamber consists of a high-vacuum chamber equipped with a pumping system as well as gas pressure control. The target material and the substrate are properly moved to ensure an uniform ablation and deposition. The tender procedure for this component has been prepared and will be published on April 2017. The delivery is foreseen in October 2017.
- Magnetron Sputtering deposition system based on the HiPIMS (High Pulse Intensity Magnetron Sputtering) technology, which has been developed at the beginning of the past decade. The system is composed by a deposition chamber, pumping and gas flow systems, power supplies and pulse power controllers suitable for the HiPIMS process (average power> 6kW, peak voltage > 800 V, peak current > 1000 A) also in combination with a superimposed electrical bias and/or heating of the substrate. This system differs from conventional Magnetron Sputtering with respect to the very high ionization degree of the plasma produced during the sputtering process. This feature will be exploited to produce novel materials with advanced features, such as excellent mechanical properties also in the form of a free standing film, which are of great interests for the aims of ENSURE. The tender procedure for this component has been prepared and will be published on April 2017. The delivery is foreseen in November 2017.
Thanks to this work, developed in advance with respect to the original project scheduling, it is expected to complete the essential part of the new lab already within the end of month 25-26 (instead of month 30, see Gantt table).

Task2.1. An exploratory study to find solutions for the generation of a compact-laser driven neutron source has been conducted. Also thanks to this activity and to the first results obtained in the some

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The results of the ENSURE project can determine a unique impact in the research on laser-driven ion acceleration in Europe, providing new directions to support the attainment, in the next future, of concrete applications of great societal relevance, in medical, energy and materials areas. ENSURE will also sustain the development of some of the major research European infrastructures of the next decades, like ELI and HiBEF@XFEL. Together with its aims and adopted methodology, these results and impact enlighten the ground-breaking, non-conventional, interdisciplinary, high-risk/high-gain nature of the ENSURE project.
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