Ion energetics in electron-rich nanoplasmas

Andreas Heidenreich, Ivan Infante, Jesus M. Ugalde

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Based on trajectory calculations of xenon clusters up to ≈6000 atoms irradiated by laser pulses (peak intensities IM = 1014–1016 W cm−2, Gaussian pulse lengths τ = 10–230 fs and frequency 0.35 fs−1), we have analyzed the interrelation between outer ionization and ion kinetic energies. The following three main categories have been identified. (A) For short pulses (τ = 10 fs) of higher intensity IM = 1016 W cm−2, the outer ionization level leads to a sufficiently high positive cluster charge, which confines the remaining nanoplasma electrons to the cluster center. In this case, ion energies can be reasonably well accounted for by a multi-charge state lychee model, according to which outer ionization is vertical and the nanoplasma can be described by a non-expanding neutral cluster interior, causing a zero-energy component in the ion kinetic energy distribution and an expanding electron-free cluster periphery. (B) For a very low outer ionization level, which is realized for short pulses of low intensity (IM = 1014 W cm−2) and/or large clusters, a slow gradual evaporation of nanoplasma electrons under laser-free conditions on the picosecond time scale is observed, making the entire outer ionization process highly non-vertical despite the short laser pulse. Accordingly, ions are accelerated only by a gradual buildup of the total cluster charge. (C) For long pulses (τ = 230 fs), the cluster expansion during the laser pulse is large and outer ionization is non-vertical. The nanoplasma electrons attain high kinetic energies by resonance heating and are distributed over the entire ion framework without a neutral cluster interior. Consequently, a zero-energy component in the ion energy distribution is missing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number075017
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


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