Extreme plasma states in laser-governed vacuum breakdown
Journal article, 2018
Triggering vacuum breakdown at laser facility is expected to provide rapid electron-positron p air production for studies in laboratory astrophysics and fundamental physics. However, the density of the produced plasma may cease to increase at a relativistic critical density, when the plasma becomes opaque. Here, we identify the opportunity of breaking this limit using optimal beam configuration of petawatt-class lasers. Tightly focused laser fields allow generating plasma in a small focal volume much less than λ 3 and creating extreme plasma states in terms of density and produced currents. These states can be regarded to be a new object of nonlinear plasma physics. Using 3D QED-PIC simulations we demonstrate a possibility of reaching densities over 10 25 cm -3, which is an order of magnitude higher than expected earlier. Controlling the process via initial target parameters provides an opportunity to reach the discovered plasma states at the upcoming laser facilities.