L. O. Silva

University of Lisbon, Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal

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Publications (280)712.04 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The onset and evolution of magnetic fields in laboratory and astrophysical plasmas is determined by several mechanisms, including instabilities, dynamo effects and ultra-high energy particle flows through gas, plasma and interstellar-media. These processes are relevant over a wide range of conditions, from cosmic ray acceleration and gamma ray bursts to nuclear fusion in stars. The disparate temporal and spatial scales where each operates can be reconciled by scaling parameters that enable to recreate astrophysical conditions in the laboratory. Here we unveil a new mechanism by which the flow of ultra-energetic particles can strongly magnetize the boundary between the plasma and the non-ionized gas to magnetic fields up to 10-100 Tesla (micro Tesla in astrophysical conditions). The physics is observed from the first time-resolved large scale magnetic field measurements obtained in a laser wakefield accelerator. Particle-in-cell simulations capturing the global plasma and field dynamics over the full plasma length confirm the experimental measurements. These results open new paths for the exploration and modelling of ultra high energy particle driven magnetic field generation in the laboratory.
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    ABSTRACT: Using full-scale 3D particle-in-cell simulations we show that the radiation reaction dominated regime can be reached in an all-optical configuration through the collision of a ∼1 GeV laser wakefield accelerated electron bunch with a counterpropagating laser pulse. In this configuration the radiation reaction significantly reduces the energy of the particle bunch, thus providing clear experimental signatures for the process with currently available lasers. We also show that the transition between the classical and quantum radiation reaction could be investigated in the same configuration with laser intensities of 10^{23} W/cm^{2}.
    Physical Review Letters 09/2014; 113(13):134801. · 7.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We explore the role of the background plasma ion motion in self-modulated plasma wakefield accelerators. We employ J. Dawson's plasma sheet model to derive expressions for the transverse plasma electric field and ponderomotive force in the narrow bunch limit. We use these results to determine the on-set of the ion dynamics, and demonstrate that the ion motion could occur in self-modulated plasma wakefield accelerators. Simulations show the motion of the plasma ions can lead to the early suppression of the self-modulation instability and of the accelerating fields. The background plasma ion motion can nevertheless be fully mitigated by using plasmas with heavier plasmas.
    Physics of Plasmas 09/2014; 21(5). DOI:10.1063/1.4876620 · 2.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A new magnetic field generation mechanism in electrostatic shocks is found, which can produce fields with magnetic energy density as high as 0.01 of the kinetic energy density of the flows on time scales $ \tilde \, 10^4 \, {\omega}_{pe}^{-1}$. Electron trapping during the shock formation process creates a strong temperature anisotropy in the distribution function, giving rise to the pure Weibel instability. The generated magnetic field is well-confined to the downstream region of the electrostatic shock. The shock formation process is not modified and the features of the shock front responsible for ion acceleration, which are currently probed in laser-plasma laboratory experiments, are maintained. However, such a strong magnetic field determines the particle trajectories downstream and has the potential to modify the signatures of the collisionless shock.
    Physical Review Letters 08/2014; 113(10). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.105002 · 7.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is shown that co-linear injection of electrons or positrons into the wakefield of the self-modulating particle beam is possible and ensures high energy gain. The witness beam must co-propagate with the tail part of the driver, since the plasma wave phase velocity there can exceed the light velocity, which is necessary for efficient acceleration. If the witness beam is many wakefield periods long, then the trapped charge is limited by beam loading effects. The initial trapping is better for positrons, but at the acceleration stage a considerable fraction of positrons is lost from the wave. For efficient trapping of electrons, the plasma boundary must be sharp, with the density transition region shorter than several centimeters. Positrons are not susceptible to the initial plasma density gradient.
    Physics of Plasmas 08/2014; 21(12). DOI:10.1063/1.4904365 · 2.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We study the evolution of the self-modulation instability for bunches with finite rise times. Using particle-in-cell simulations we show that, unlike with long bunches with sharp rise times, there are large variations of the wake amplitude and phase velocity with finite rise time bunches. These results show that bunches with sharp rise times are important to seed the self-modulation instability and to ensure stable acceleration.
    Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 07/2014; 56(8):084014. DOI:10.1088/0741-3335/56/8/084014 · 2.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Raman and Brillouin amplification of laser pulses in plasma have been shown to produce picosecond pulses of petawatt power. In previous studies, filamentation of the probe pulse has been identified as the biggest threat to the amplification process, especially for Brillouin amplification, which employs the highest plasma densities. Therefore it has been proposed to perform Brillouin scattering at densities below $n_{cr}/4$ to reduce the influence of filamentation. However, parastic Raman scattering can become a problem at such densities, contrary to densities above $n_{cr}/4$, where it is suppressed. In this paper, we investigate the influence of parasitic Raman scattering on Brillouin amplification at densities below $n_{cr}/4$. We expose the specific problems posed by both Raman backward and forward scattering, and how both types of scattering can be mitigated, leading to an increased performance of the Brillouin amplification process.
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    ABSTRACT: We preform hybrid simulations of super Alfvenic quasi-parallel shock, driven by a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), propagating in the Outer Coronal or Solar Wind at distances of between 3 to 6 solar radii. The hybrid treatment of the problem enable the study of the shock propagation on the ion time scale, preserving ion kinetics and allowing for a self consistent treatment of the shock propagation and particle acceleration. The CME plasma drags the embedded magnetic field lines stretching from the sun, and propagates out into interplanetary space at a greater velocity than the in-situ solar wind, driving the shock, and producing very energetic particles. Our results show electromagnetic Alfven waves are generated at the shock front. The waves propagate upstream of the shock and are produced by the counter streaming ions of the solar wind plasma being reflected at the shock. A significant fraction of the particles are accelerated in two distinct phases: first, particles drift from the shock and are accelerated in the upstream region and, second, particles arriving at the shock get trapped, and are accelerated at the shock front. A fraction of the particles diffused back to the shock, which is consistent with the Fermi acceleration mechanism.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2014; 792(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/792/1/9 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, we determine the electron beam quality requirements to obtain exponential radiation amplification in the ion-channel laser, where a relativistic electron beam wiggles in a focusing ion-channel that can be created in a wakefield accelerator. The beam energy and wiggler parameter spreads should be limited. Those spread limits are functions of the Pierce parameter, which is calculated here without neglecting the radiation diffraction. Two dimensional and three dimensional simulations of the self-consistent ion-channel laser confirm our theoretical predictions.
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    ABSTRACT: Strong shear flow regions found in astrophysical jets are shown to be important dissipation regions, where the shear flow kinetic energy is converted into electric and magnetic field energy via shear instabilities. The emergence of these self-consistent fields make shear flows significant sites for radiation emission and particle acceleration. We focus on electron-scale instabilities, namely the collisionless, unmagnetized Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (KHI) and a large-scale dc magnetic field generation mechanism on the electron scales. We show that these processes are important candidates to generate magnetic fields in the presence of strong velocity shears, which may naturally originate in energetic matter outburst of active galactic nuclei and gamma-ray bursters. We show that the KHI is robust to density jumps between shearing flows, thus operating in various scenarios with different density contrasts. Multidimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations of the KHI, performed with OSIRIS, reveal the emergence of a strong and large-scale dc magnetic field component, which is not captured by the standard linear fluid theory. This dc component arises from kinetic effects associated with the thermal expansion of electrons of one flow into the other across the shear layer, whilst ions remain unperturbed due to their inertia. The electron expansion forms dc current sheets, which induce a dc magnetic field. Our results indicate that most of the electromagnetic energy developed in the KHI is stored in the dc component, reaching values of equipartition on the order of $10^{-3}$ in the electron time-scale, and persists longer than the proton time-scale. Particle scattering/acceleration in the self generated fields of these shear flow instabilities is also analyzed.
    New Journal of Physics 04/2014; 16(3). DOI:10.1088/1367-2630/16/3/035007 · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: For many plasma physics problems, three-dimensional and kinetic effects are very important. However, such simulations are very computationally intensive. Fortunately, there is a class of problems for which there is nearly azimuthal symmetry and the dominant three-dimensional physics is captured by the inclusion of only a few azimuthal harmonics. Recently, it was proposed [A. Lifschitz et al., J. Comp. Phys. 228 (5) (2009) 1803-1814] to model one such problem, laser wakefield acceleration, by expanding the fields and currents in azimuthal harmonics and truncating the expansion after only the first harmonic. The complex amplitudes of the fundamental and first harmonic for the fields were solved on an r-z grid and a procedure for calculating the complex current amplitudes for each particle based on its motion in Cartesian geometry was presented using a Marder's correction to maintain the validity of Gauss's law. In this paper, we describe an implementation of this algorithm into OSIRIS using a rigorous charge conserving current deposition method to maintain the validity of Gauss's law. We show that this algorithm is a hybrid method which uses a particles-in-cell description in r-z and a gridless description in $\phi$. We include the ability to keep an arbitrary number of harmonics and higher order particle shapes. Examples, for laser wakefield acceleration, plasma wakefield acceleration, and beam loading are also presented and directions for future work are discussed.
    Journal of Computational Physics 03/2014; 281. DOI:10.1016/j.jcp.2014.10.064 · 2.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Non-linear wave-driven processes in plasmas are normally described by either a monochromatic pump wave that couples to other monochromatic waves, or as a random phase wave coupling to other random phase waves. An alternative approach involves an incoherent, random or broadband pump coupling to monochromatic and/or coherent structures in the plasma. This approach can be implemented through the wave kinetic model. In this model, the incoming pump wave is described by either a bunch (for coherent waves) or a sea (for random phase waves) of quasi-particles. A particle-in-cell type code has been developed to perform numerical simulations of such interactions using the quasi-particle approach. This code allows for a comparatively easy description of both random phase and coherent pump pulses coupling to slow electrostatic plasma waves, while providing an extended range of powerful diagnostics leading to a deeper physical insight into the dynamics of the fast waves. As an example, the propagation of short, intense laser pulses through a plasma has been simulated. A sample of the phenomena that can be studied for this case includes modulational instabilities, photon wave breaking and turbulence, and pulse compression, stretching, and chirping. The extensibility of the numerical implementation to other types of fast wave-slow wave interactions is also discussed.
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    ABSTRACT: Collisionless shocks are pervasive in astrophysics and they are critical to understand cosmic ray acceleration. Laboratory experiments with intense lasers are now opening the way to explore and characterise the underlying microphysics, which determine the acceleration process of collisionless shocks. We determine the shock character - electrostatic or electromagnetic - based on the stability of electrostatic shocks to transverse electromagnetic fluctuations as a function of the electron temperature and flow velocity of the plasma components, and we compare the analytical model with particle-in-cell simulations. By making the connection with the laser parameters driving the plasma flows, we demonstrate that shocks with different and distinct underlying microphysics can be explored in the laboratory with state-of-the-art laser systems.
    Scientific Reports 02/2014; 4:3934. DOI:10.1038/srep03934 · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: New acceleration technology is mandatory for the future elucidation of fundamental particles and their interactions. A promising approach is to exploit the properties of plasmas. Past research has focused on creating large-amplitude plasma waves by injecting an intense laser pulse or an electron bunch into the plasma. However, the maximum energy gain of electrons accelerated in a single plasma stage is limited by the energy of the driver. Proton bunches are the most promising drivers of wakefields to accelerate electrons to the TeV energy scale in a single stage. An experimental program at CERN -- the AWAKE experiment -- has been launched to study in detail the important physical processes and to demonstrate the power of proton-driven plasma wakefield acceleration. Here we review the physical principles and some experimental considerations for a future proton-driven plasma wakefield accelerator.
    Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 01/2014; 56(8). DOI:10.1088/0741-3335/56/8/084013 · 2.39 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
712.04 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2006–2014
    • University of Lisbon
      Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
    • University of Rochester
      • Department of Mechanical Engineering
      Rochester, New York, United States
    • University of Strathclyde
      • Department of Physics
      Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 1997–2014
    • Instituto Técnico y Cultural
      Santa Clara de Portugal, Michoacán, Mexico
  • 2013
    • University of Nevada, Reno
      • Department of Physics
      Reno, Nevada, United States
  • 2009–2013
    • Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração de Lisboa
      Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
    • Imperial College London
      • Department of Physics
      London, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1998–2012
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      • • Department of Electrical Engineering
      Los Ángeles, California, United States
  • 2011
    • ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa
      Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2003–2011
    • Technical University of Lisbon
      • Centro de Fisica dos Plasmas
      Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2010
    • Iowa State University
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Ames, Iowa, United States
  • 2007
    • ISG | Business & Economics School
      Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2006–2007
    • Politecnico di Torino
      • DENERG - Department of Energy
      Torino, Piedmont, Italy
  • 2000–2005
    • Ruhr-Universität Bochum
      • • Institut für Theoretische Physik I
      • • Fakultät für Physik und Astronomie
      Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany