This paper reviews the many recent advances at the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS) at the University of Michigan in multi-MeV ion beam generation from the interaction of short laser pulses focused onto thin foil targets at intensities ranging from 1017 to 1019 W/cm2. Ion beam characteristics were studied by changing the laser intensity, laser wavelength, target material, and by depositing a well-absorbed coating. We manipulated the proton beam divergence using shaped targets and observed nuclear transformation induced by high-energy protons and deuterons. Qualitative theoretical approaches and fully relativistic two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations modeled energetic ion generation. Comparison with experiments sheds light on ion energy spectra for multi-species plasma, the dependences of ion-energy on preplasma scale length and solid density plasma thickness, and laser-triggered isotope yield. Theoretical predictions are also made with the aim of studying ion generation for high-power lasers with the energies expected in the near future, and for the relativistic intensity table-top laser, a prototype of which is already in operation at CUOS in the limits of several cycle pulse duration and a single-wavelength spot size.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/donald_umstadter/75/