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Laser reflection as a catalyst for direct laser acceleration in multipicosecond laser-plasma interaction

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We demonstrate that laser reflection acts as a catalyst for superponderomotive electron production in the preplasma formed by relativistic multipicosecond lasers incident on solid density targets. In 1D particle-in-cell simulations, high energy electron production proceeds via two stages of direct laser acceleration: an initial stochastic backward stage and a final nonstochastic forward stage. The initial stochastic stage, driven by the reflected laser pulse, provides the preacceleration needed to enable the final stage to be nonstochastic. Energy gain in the electrostatic potential, which has been frequently considered to enhance stochastic heating, is only of secondary importance. The mechanism underlying the production of high energy electrons by laser pulses incident on solid density targets is of direct relevance to applications involving multipicosecond laser-plasma interactions.

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