Efficient neutron production from sub-nanosecond laser pulse accelerating deuterons
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Neutron-producing experiments have been carried out on the Prague Asterix Laser System. At the fundamental wavelength of 1.315 μm, the laser pulse of a 600 J energy and 300 ps duration was focused on a thick deuterated-polyethylene target. Neutron yields reached (4.1 ± 0.8) × 108 at the peak intensity of ≈3 × 1016 W/cm2. A more detailed analysis of neutron time-of-flight signals showed that a significant fraction of neutron yields was produced both by the 2H(d,n)3He reaction and by other neutron-producing reactions. Neutron energies together with delayed neutron and gamma emission showed that MeV deuterons escaped from a laser-produced plasma and interacted ≈50 ns later with a borosilicate blast-shield glass. In order to increase DD neutron yields and to characterize deuteron beams via nuclear reactions, a secondary deuterated polyethylene target was used in a pitcher-catcher scheme at the target front side. In this experimental arrangement, the neutron yield reached (2.0 ± 0.5) × 109 with the peak neutron fluence of (2.5 ± 0.5) × 108 n/sr. From the neutron yield, it was calculated that the secondary target was bombarded by 2 × 1014 deuterons in the 0.5–2.0 MeV energy range. The neutron yield of 2 × 109 at the laser energy of 600 J implied the production efficiency of 3 × 106 n/J. A very important result is that the efficient neutron production was achieved with the low contrast, sub-nanosecond laser pulse of the intensity of 1016 W/cm2. The latter parameters can be achieved in a rep-rate mode more easily than ultra-high intensities and contrasts.
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