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Time-resolved visible and extreme ultraviolet spectroscopy of laser-produced tin plasma

  • Author(s): O'Shay, Joseph Fred
  • et al.

Previous experimental studies of laser-matter interactions have often been conducted without sufficient accuracy or attention to critical laser parameters. Moreover, much of the work published in the open literature lacks the essential theoretical underpinnings necessary to explain observations and provide predictive capability for future experiments. In this study, we use nanosecond-resolved spectroscopic techniques to constrain fundamental physics in laser-produced tin plasma, and overcome these shortcomings by implementing several metrological innovations to ensure the accuracy of experimental data. Furthermore, we present a side-by-side comparison of experimental results with computational modeling to advance our understanding of the many nonlinear, interrelated processes that occur within transient tin plasma. This dissertation is divided into three primary sections. In the first section, we study the physics governing the generation and early-time evolution of tin plasma in the low-irradiance regime: ̃ 4 x 1011 - 1 x 1012 W/cm2. A two-channel XUV photodiode spectrometer has been developed to measure tin plasma temperature, as well as diagnose radiation transport processes during the laser irradiation phase. During laser heating, the radiation spectrum from semi-infinite tin targets was found to approach the blackbody limit in the 10 - 80 nm spectral range. Through one-dimensional numerical modeling, this is shown to be due to the penetration of a radiative diffusion wave beyond the critical depth. Analysis of the time-dependent tin emission spectrum has shown that nearly 30% of the incident laser energy is converted to energetic photons in the spectral range of 15 < < 120 eV. The equilibrium radiation temperature, characteristic of the optically thick ablation front, has shown reasonable agreement with numerical predictions despite the model's limited dimensionality. The second part of this work examines the late-time hydrodynamics associated with the radiative plasma phase studied in the preceding section. Nanosecond-gated optical emission spectroscopy is employed to diagnose electron temperature, electron density, and propagation velocity of the ablation plume. In contrast to the large change in radiation temperature observed for a factor of three increase in laser intensity, it is found that the post-pulse plume hydrodynamics is not significantly affected for the same variation in irradiation conditions. At late times, the ion kinetic energy is found to exceed electron thermal energy by more than 100 times, which serves as a lower bound on the ratio to the ion thermal counterpart. The expanding laser- produced tin plasma is well described by a cylindrical hydrodynamic transport model; a comparison between time- integrated experimental and numerical plasma energy density has shown convergence to within a factor of two. At distances > 3 mm from the target, it was found that the heavy ion tin plasma transitions from Boltzmann to coronal equilibrium, rendering LTE assumptions in the spectral deconvolution procedure invalid. In the final section of this study, we investigate the radiative properties of tin ablation plasma as the laser irradiance is varied by more than an order of magnitude. The effect of increased focused laser energy is manifested in a weak scaling of radiation temperature, and a significant broadening of the emission lifetime at the highest laser intensities. It is found that the resulting radiation conversion efficiency is not a strong function of laser intensity within the parameter regime of this work. It is shown that agreement between experimental and simulated plasma conditions becomes progressively worse in the high-irradiance regime as the ionization and radiative transfer models play increasingly dominant roles in the plasma energetics

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