Laser-driven ion acceleration
Ultraintense lasers offer the possibility to develop novel sources of multi-MeV ions, based on a paradigm of “collective” or “coherent” acceleration in a plasma. Such laser-plasma sources have unique properties such as ultrashort duration and high number of particles per shot, and may lead to unconventional developments in applications of energetic ion beams in science and medicine. Our research activity is focused on the theory and simulation of acceleration mechanisms, and on the participation in experiments performed in European facilities. Most recently our work has been focused on investigating the “light sail” scheme in which an ultrathin target is boosted by the radiation pressure of the laser pulse; a devoted simulation campaign (based on a grant from the PRACE network) unfolded both an high gain regime, accessible for the 10 PW laser foreseen in the European project ELI, and also the onset of Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities stimulated by plasmonics effects. We also collaborated to first experiments giving preliminary evidence of the onset of the light sail regime and paving the way for its optimization.