Monte-Carlo Simulation and Measurements of Electrons, Positrons, and Gamma-rays Generated by Laser-Solid Interactions
Henderson, Alexander Hastings
Liang, Edison P.
Doctor of Philosophy
Lasers have grown more powerful in recent years, opening up new frontiers in physics. From early intensities of less than 1010 W/cm2, lasers can now achieve intensities over 1021 W/cm2. Ultraintense laser can become powerful new tools to produce relativistic electrons, positron-electron pairs, and gamma-rays. The pair production efficiency is equal to or greater than that of linear accelerators, the most common method of antimatter generation in the past. The gamma-rays and electrons produced can be highly collimated, making these interactions of interest for beam generation. Monte-Carlo particle transport simulation has long been used in physics for simulating various particle and radiation processes, and is well-suited to simulating both electromagnetic cascades resulting from laser-solid interactions and the response of electron/positron spectrometers and gamma-ray detectors. We have used GEANT4 Monte-Carlo particle transport simulation to design and calibrate charged-particle spectrometers using permanent magnets as well as a Forward Compton Electron Spectrometer to measure gamma-rays of higher energies than have previously been achieved. We have had some success simulating and measuring high positron and gamma-rays yields from laser-solid interactions using gold target at the Texas Petawatt Laser (TPW). While similar spectrometers have been developed in the past, we are to our knowledge the first to successfully use permanent magnet spectrometers to detect positrons originating from laser-solid interactions in this energy range. We believe we are also the first to successfully detect multi-MeV gamma rays using a permanent magnet Forward Compton Electron Spectrometer. Monte-Carlo particle transport simulation has been used by other groups to model positron production from laser-solid ineraction, but at the time that we began we were, as far as we know, the first to have a significant amount of empirical data to work with. We were thus at liberty to estimate the initial conditions, compare simulation results to data, and adjust as needed to obtain a better estimate of the actual initial conditions. We have also developed a new method for measuring the yield and angular distribution of gamma-rays using a two-dimensional dosimeter array. In this work, we examine the experimental and simulation results as well as the physical processes behind them. In addition, the gamma-rays produced by our experiments could be useful for photo-nuclear reactors and homeland security purposes. In our experiments, we measured narrow energy-band positrons and electrons which have potential medical uses.
Laser-solid interactions; Monte-Carlo Simulation; Pair Production; Compton Spectrometer