We present a scheme to significantly increase the energy of quasi-monoenergetic protons accelerated by a laser beam without increasing the input power. This improvement is accomplished by first irradiating the foil several wave periods with circular polarization and then switching the laser to linear polarization. The polarization switch increases the electron temperature and thereby moves more electrons ahead of the proton layer, resulting in a space charge electric field pushing the protons forwards. The scaling of the proton energy evolution with respect to the switching time is studied, and an optimal switching time is obtained. The proton energy for the case with optimal switching time can reach about 80 MeV with an input laser power of 70 TW, an improvement of more than 30% compared to the case without polarization switch.
- proton acceleration
- multi-ion foil
- radiation pressure acceleration