Physics of the laser-plasma interface in the relativistic regime of interaction
Journal article, 2019
The reflection of intense laser radiation from solids appears as a result of relativistic dynamics of the electrons driven by both incoming and self-generated electromagnetic fields at the periphery of the emerging dense plasma. In the case of highly relativistic motion, electrons tend to form a thin oscillating layer, which makes it possible to model the interaction and obtain the temporal structure of the reflected radiation. The modeling reveals the possibility and conditions for producing singularly intense and short extreme ultraviolet (XUV) bursts of radiation, which are interesting for many applications. However, the intensity and duration of the XUV bursts, as well as the high-energy end of the harmonic spectrum, depend on the thickness of the layer and its internal structure which are not assessed by such macroscopic modeling. Here, we analyze the microscopic physics of this layer and clarify how its parameters are bound and how this controls the outlined properties of XUV bursts.