An experimental and numerical investigation of laser-plasma interactions
An experiment to study the interaction of an intense CO2 laser beam with a dense, preformed, magnetically confined, hydrogen plasma has been conducted. Plasma densities considered are on the order of 10^23 m^-3 with initial temperatures of 1-3 eV. The laser is focused into the plasma in the axial direction with the vacuum focal spot positioned at the axial and radial center of the plasma. The results obtained are compared to the results of a computer code developed at Texas Tech University. Mechanisms included in the code are inverse bremsstrahlung heating of the plasma, electron-ion energy equipartition, thermal conduction in electrons and ions, and plasma fluid dynamics. A self-consistent solution of ray tracing in the plasma is also included in the code to predict the self-focusing of the laser beam. Agreement between experimental and theoretical results is generally good.