Ion dynamics and coherent structure formation following laser pulse self-channeling

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Macchi, Andrea
Bigongiari, Alessandra
Ceccherini, Francesco
Cornolti, Fulvio
Liseikina, Tatiana V.
Borghesi, Marco
Kar, Satyabrata
Romaganani, Lorenzo
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Abstract
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The propagation of a superintense laser pulse in an underdense, inhomogeneous plasma has been studied numerically by two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations on a time scale extending up to several picoseconds. The effects of the ion dynamics following the charge-displacement self-channeling of the laser pulse have been addressed. Radial ion acceleration leads to the ``breaking'' of the plasma channel walls, causing an inversion of the radial space-charge field and the filamentation of the laser pulse. At later times a number of long-lived, quasi-periodic field structures are observed and their dynamics is characterized with high resolution. Inside the plasma channel, a pattern of electric and magnetic fields resembling both soliton- and vortex-like structures is observed.
Comment: 10 pages, 5 figures (visit http://www.df.unipi.it/~macchi to download a high-resolution version), to appear in Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion (Dec. 2007), special issue containing invited papers from the 34th EPS Conference on Plasma Physics (Warsaw, July 2007)
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Physics - Plasma Physics
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