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Towards reliable, intense and high repetition-rate laser-driven ion beamlines

Abstract : Particle accelerators attract a lot of attention in the scientific and non-scientific community as a result of their wide applicability in fields ranging from fundamental sciences, medicine to industrial applications. This doctoral work stands at the forefront of laser-based ion accelerators, and pushes forward their development to make them more competitive ion sources compared to conventional particle accelerators. For achieving higher competitiveness, laser-driven ion sources must be compact, cost-effective, reliable, intense and operated at high repetition-rates, which all together yield ion beam characteristics that cannot be realistically matched by any other kind of ion accelerator. To do so, the general effort of this doctoral work tackled three different aspects of laser-based ion acceleration, namely precise target alignment, improved targetry using nanostructures and the development of efficient particle diagnostics. The endeavor required to perform equivalent amounts of numerical work, through simulations using High Performance Computing, as well as experimental work, by implementing a cutting-edge ion beamline at the Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS) 100 TW facility and to carry out several experimental campaigns abroad.The first part of the work aims at improving the reliability of ion beams through the precise positioning of solid targets used in laser-driven ion acceleration. For this purpose, a Target Positioning Interferometer (TPI) that reaches subwavelength positioning precision was developed. The TPI’s novel design is a modified Michelson interferometer that incorporates an aspherical converging lens in the target arm to transform it from a relative to an absolute positioning device, having a single unambiguity point in space. The high positioning accuracy is also achieved by a numerical fringe analysis algorithm that maximizes the extraction of signals with high signal-to-noise ratio, in an optimized timeframe. The development of a fast algorithm is crucial to make the TPI a viable solution for its implementation in a laser-based ion accelerator.The second part of the work is focused on enhancing the acceleration mechanism to generate higher ion numbers and kinetic energies, leading to more intense ion bunches. The solid targets used are typically flat metallic targets which allow for less than 10% of laser energy absorption, thereby limiting the laser-to-ion conversion efficiency to a few percent. A way to increase this conversion efficiency is by using target surface nanostructuration to trap the incoming laser pulse, ultimately leading to a greater energy transfer to the ions. We have shown, both theoretically and experimentally, that a careful optimization of a nanostructure’s geometrical parameters, in particular for nanospheres and nanowires, leads to multiple-fold enhancements of ion numbers and kinetic energies, compared to the use of the same laser pulse incident on flat targets of the same material.The final part of the work is dedicated to the development of efficient particle diagnostics suitable for being implemented on high repetition-rate laser-based ion beamlines. We first performed the absolute number calibration of the new EBT-XD type of radiochromic films (RCF). The EBT-XD exhibit larger dose detection range and higher minimum energy threshold compared to their EBT3 counterpart, hence more suitable for intense ion beamlines. A severe response quenching was remarked when the Bragg peak of the measured particle falls directly within the active layer of the RCF, causing significant particle number misestimation errors. Finally, we have developed a Thomson Parabola (TP) and Time-of-Flight cross-calibrated set of particle diagnostics that were incorporated on the ALLS 100 TW ion beamline. The TP spectrometer uses a microchannel plate (MCP) detector that was calibrated from single proton impacts to reconstruct the response function of the MCP detection system.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 12:04:25 PM
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Simon Carrier-Vallieres. Towards reliable, intense and high repetition-rate laser-driven ion beamlines. Optics / Photonic. Université de Bordeaux; Institut national de la recherche scientifique (Québec, province), 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020BORD0224⟩. ⟨tel-03149754⟩

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