Kinetic effects on the transition to relativistic self-induced transparency in laser-driven ion acceleration
Conference contribution, 2016
We study kinetic effects responsible for the transition to relativistic self-induced transparency in the interaction of a circularly-polarized laser-pulse with an overdense plasma and their relation to hole-boring and ion acceleration. It is shown, using particle-in-cell simulations and an analysis of separatrices in single-particle phase-space, that this transition is mediated by the complex interplay of fast electron dynamics and ion motion at the initial stage of the interaction. It thus depends on the ion charge-to-mass ratio and can be controlled by varying the laser temporal profile. Moreover, we find a new regime in which a transition from relativistic transparency to hole-boring occurs dynamically during the course of the interaction. It is shown that, for a fixed laser intensity, this dynamic transition regime allows optimal ion acceleration in terms of both energy and energy spread.