Resonant coupling of small size-controlled lead clusters with an intense laser field
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We exposed small size-controlled lead clusters with a few hundreds of atoms to laser pulses with peak intensities up to 1015 W cm-2 and durations between 60 fs to 2.5 ps. We measured kinetic energies and ionic charge of fragments as a function of the laser intensity and pulse duration. Highly charged Pbn+ ions up to n = 26 have been detected presenting kinetic energies up to 15 keV. For comparison with our experimental results, we have performed simulations of the laser coupling with a cluster-sized lead nanoplasma using a qualitative model that was initially proposed by Ditmire and co-workers at LLNL for the case of rare gas clusters. From these simulations we conclude that two mechanisms are responsible for the explosion dynamics of small lead clusters. As already observed for large rare gas clusters (n = 106), fragments with charge states below +10 are driven by Coulomb forces, whereas the higher charged fragments are accelerated by hydrodynamic forces. The latter mechanism is a direct consequence of the strong laser heating of the electron cloud in the nanoplasma arising from a plasmon-like resonance occurring at ne = 3nc. In order to obtain an optimized laser-nanoplasma coupling, our results suggest that the plasma resonance should occur at the peak intensity of the laser pulse. Due to inertial effects, even for such small-sized clusters, the observed optimum pulse duration is in the order of 1 ps which is in good agreement with our theoretical results.
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