Plasma channel formation in NIR laser-irradiated carrier gas from an aerosol nanoparticle injector
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2019
© 2019, The Author(s). Aerosol nanoparticle injectors are fundamentally important for experiments where container-free sample handling is needed to study isolated nanoparticles. The injector consists of a nebuliser, a differential pumping unit, and an aerodynamic lens to create and deliver a focused particle beam to the interaction point inside a vacuum chamber. The tightest focus of the particle beam is close to the injector tip. The density of the focusing carrier gas is high at this point. We show here how this gas interacts with a near infrared laser pulse (800 nm wavelength, 120 fs pulse duration) at intensities approaching 1016 Wcm−2. We observe acceleration of gas ions to kinetic energies of 100s eV and study their energies as a function of the carrier gas density. Our results indicate that field ionisation by the intense near-infrared laser pulse opens up a plasma channel behind the laser pulse. The observations can be understood in terms of a Coulomb explosion of the created underdense plasma channel. The results can be used to estimate gas background in experiments with the injector and they open up opportunities for a new class of studies on electron and ion dynamics in nanoparticles surrounded by a low-density gas.